Keisai Eisen 渓斎英泉 (1790–1848)
News from the Bedroom: The Pillow Library
(Keichū kibun / makura bunko), vol. 2
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), 1823
Woodblock-printed book; ink and color on paper
Purchase, Richard Lane Collection, 2003
Eisen was unquestionably one of the most productive and versatile shunga artists of the 19th century, and News from the Bedroom: The Pillow Library was one of the defining accomplishments in his career. Sex manuals had been published throughout the 17th and 18th centuries and played an important role in the art historical development of shunga, but with the absurd sense of humor and meticulous draftsmanship that typified erotica in the 19th century, Eisen produced an encyclopedia about sexuality that, even by contemporary standards, is surprisingly thorough.
As seen in works by the Utagawa School on display nearby, many 19th-century shunga artists produced detailed depictions of genitalia, but until the publication of this text, no one had attempted to describe a vagina or uterus from an internal vantage point.
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