Tsukioka School 月岡派
Illustrated Guide to an Evening of Admiring Courtesans
(Enjo miyako no zue 艷女見夜比図惠)

Japan, Edo period (1615-1868), c. 1789-1801
Woodblock-printed book; ink on paper with hand-coloring
Purchase, Richard Lane Collection, 2003

Typical of the work of Tsukioka Settei (1710-1786), the figures in this book are sprawled out horizontally across two-page spreads, and the tops and bottoms of the images are tightly cropped. Also reminiscent of Settei’s work is the way in which the figures intertwine within their given space.

The left page is particularly fascinating, as a viewer must study the image carefully in order to discern to whom each of the legs belongs. Equally intense observation is required to realize that the upper figure is a wakashū. As opposed to that of his well-endowed partner, his genitalia is almost completely hidden, and only the most cursory outline of his testicles, along with his hairstyle, reveal to us that he is not female, as one might automatically assume.

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