Keisai Eisen 渓斎英泉 (1790–1848)
Sex in Aioi (Aioi shishi)
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), 1823
Woodblock-printed book; ink and color on paper
Purchase, Richard Lane Collection, 2003

One of the art historical models that originally inspired The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō (Tōkaidō Gojūsan-tsugi, 1833–1834) by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858) was The Eight Views of Ōmi (Ōmi hakkei), a series of landscapes depicting the inherent beauty of seasonal changes and daily events near Lake Biwa: the autumn moon as seen from Ishiyama Temple, the snow lingering on Mount Hira, the sunset viewed from Seta, the sound of Mii Temple’s evening bell, the ships returning to Yabase Harbor, the clearing skies of Awazu, the Karasaki night rain, and a flock of geese descending upon the town of Katata.

As soon as this series developed popularity, artists began to parody it by altering the geographic location of the scenes or incorporating into the landscapes portraits of fashionable prostitutes. This erotic book by Eisen includes “The Eight Views of the Eastern Capital” (Tōto hakkei), in which the artist pushes the satire even further. Depicted here is the Sumidagawa River in Edo, inserted like a hallucination behind an intimate, interior bedroom scene.

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