Hayami Tsuneaki Shungyōsai 速水恒章春暁斎 (1767-1823)
Traditions of Fashion and Cosmetics in the Capital
(Miyako fūzoku kewai den 都風俗化粧伝), vol. 1

Japan, Edo period (1615-1868), 1813
Woodblock-printed book; ink on paper
Purchase, Richard Lane Collection, 2003

An early 19th century precursor to women’s magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Vogue, this text informed female readers about current fashion and offered concrete advice about clothing and make-up. Though their imagery is far from explicit, the fact that these woodblock-printed books inform women how to effectively construct visible signifiers of their sexual identities not only underscores their relevance within the context of a discussion about shunga but also demonstrates the futility of any attempt to distinguish between “erotic works” and those located elsewhere along ukiyo-e’s seamless spectrum of sexual candor. Not surprisingly, Shungyōsai also produced explicit works of shunga, on display elsewhere in this exhibition.

In the lower half of both pages appear instructions for applying eye mascara and modifying the shape of one’s eyebrows. In the upper left corner, one young woman sits patiently while another assists her in applying white facial foundation.

View this book in its entirety on museum database (enabled through support by the Robert F. Lange Foundation)