Beauty Wearing Shunga-Patterned Kimono
Japan, c. 1930
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
On Loan from Patricia Salmon

Similar in style to the work of Torii Kotondo (1900–1976, known also as Torii Kiyotada V), this portrait of a woman seems innocuous at first glance, but closer inspection reveals that her kimono is decorated with pages from an erotic text, much like those designed by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806) in the 1790s.

By the early 20th century (due to the government’s prohibition of sexually explicit imagery and the general public’s changing taste in art) works of shunga produced in the Edo period (1615–1868) came to be seen as little more than nostalgic decorations.