Images of a sexual nature by Kitagawa Utamaro and other Japanese artists

Woodblock prints and paintings from 'Poem of the Pillow' and other stories
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Kitagawa Utamaro, Poem of the Pillow (Utamakura) (1788)

1 / 24 Kitagawa Utamaro, Poem of the Pillow (Utamakura) (1788)

Kitagawa Utamaro, The Prelude to Desire (Negai no itoguchi) (1799)

2 / 24 Kitagawa Utamaro, The Prelude to Desire (Negai no itoguchi) (1799)

3 / 24

Hishikawa Moronobu, Lovers in an Interior (c.1680)

4 / 24 Hishikawa Moronobu, Lovers in an Interior (c.1680)

Sugimura Jihei, Pleasures of the Floating World (Ukiyo raku asobi) (1681, Enpo 9)

5 / 24 Sugimura Jihei, Pleasures of the Floating World (Ukiyo raku asobi) (1681, Enpo 9)

Torii Kiyonobu I, Erotic Contest of Flowers (c.1710)

6 / 24 Torii Kiyonobu I, Erotic Contest of Flowers (c.1710)

Miyagawa Choshun, Spring Temptations (1716-22)

7 / 24 Miyagawa Choshun, Spring Temptations (1716-22)

Nishikawa Sukenobu, The Shining Dimple of Love (Enshku hana ekubo) (1716-25)

8 / 24 Nishikawa Sukenobu, The Shining Dimple of Love (Enshku hana ekubo) (1716-25)

Okumura Masanobu, Beauty after the bath and Cockerel (c.1730)

9 / 24 Okumura Masanobu, Beauty after the bath and Cockerel (c.1730)

Suzuki Harunobu, The Fashionable Romantic Adventures of Maneemon (Furyu enshoku Maneemon) (c.1768)

10 / 24 Suzuki Harunobu, The Fashionable Romantic Adventures of Maneemon (Furyu enshoku Maneemon) (c.1768)

Tsukioka Settei, Scroll of the Four Seasons (c.1768-72)

11 / 24 Tsukioka Settei, Scroll of the Four Seasons (c.1768-72)

Isoda Koryusai, Girl Spying on a Couple from Behind a Screen (c.1770))

12 / 24 Isoda Koryusai, Girl Spying on a Couple from Behind a Screen (c.1770))

Katsukawa Shunsho, from Erotic Images of Spring Evenings (1779)

13 / 24 Katsukawa Shunsho, from Erotic Images of Spring Evenings (1779)

Katsukawa Shuncho, from Collection of Suggestive Pictures (c.1780-90)

14 / 24 Katsukawa Shuncho, from Collection of Suggestive Pictures (c.1780-90)

Kitao Masanobu, The Treasure Boat (Takarabune) (c.1782)

15 / 24 Kitao Masanobu, The Treasure Boat (Takarabune) (c.1782)

Torii Kiyonaga, from The Sleeve Scroll (Sode no maki) (1785)

16 / 24 Torii Kiyonaga, from The Sleeve Scroll (Sode no maki) (1785)

Chokyosai Eiri, Clean Copy of Female Beauty (Fumi no kiyogaki) (1801)

17 / 24 Chokyosai Eiri, Clean Copy of Female Beauty (Fumi no kiyogaki) (1801)

Chobunsai Eishi, The Elephant's Leash (Kisa no tsuna) (c.1804-18)

18 / 24 Chobunsai Eishi, The Elephant's Leash (Kisa no tsuna) (c.1804-18)

19 / 24

Utagawa Toyokuni, Picture Book: Mirror of the Vagina (Ehon Kaichu Kagami) (1823)

20 / 24 Utagawa Toyokuni, Picture Book: Mirror of the Vagina (Ehon Kaichu Kagami) (1823)

Keisai Eisen, Watergames (Mizuasobi) (c.1825)

21 / 24 Keisai Eisen, Watergames (Mizuasobi) (c.1825)

Katsushika Hokusai, from Plovers above the Waves (c.1828-9)

22 / 24 Katsushika Hokusai, from Plovers above the Waves (c.1828-9)

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, from Eight Views of Omi (OMi hakkei) (c.1833)

23 / 24 Utagawa Kuniyoshi, from Eight Views of Omi (OMi hakkei) (c.1833)

Utagawa Kunisada, Genji of the East [Charm of Flowers and Birds] ([Kacho yojo] Azuma Genji) (1837)

24 / 24 Utagawa Kunisada, Genji of the East [Charm of Flowers and Birds] ([Kacho yojo] Azuma Genji) (1837)

Kitagawa Utamaro, Poem of the Pillow (Utamakura) (1788)

1 / 24 Kitagawa Utamaro, Poem of the Pillow (Utamakura) (1788)

Kitagawa Utamaro, The Prelude to Desire (Negai no itoguchi) (1799)

2 / 24 Kitagawa Utamaro, The Prelude to Desire (Negai no itoguchi) (1799)

3 / 24

Hishikawa Moronobu, Lovers in an Interior (c.1680)

4 / 24 Hishikawa Moronobu, Lovers in an Interior (c.1680)

Sugimura Jihei, Pleasures of the Floating World (Ukiyo raku asobi) (1681, Enpo 9)

5 / 24 Sugimura Jihei, Pleasures of the Floating World (Ukiyo raku asobi) (1681, Enpo 9)

Torii Kiyonobu I, Erotic Contest of Flowers (c.1710)

6 / 24 Torii Kiyonobu I, Erotic Contest of Flowers (c.1710)

Miyagawa Choshun, Spring Temptations (1716-22)

7 / 24 Miyagawa Choshun, Spring Temptations (1716-22)

Nishikawa Sukenobu, The Shining Dimple of Love (Enshku hana ekubo) (1716-25)

8 / 24 Nishikawa Sukenobu, The Shining Dimple of Love (Enshku hana ekubo) (1716-25)

Okumura Masanobu, Beauty after the bath and Cockerel (c.1730)

9 / 24 Okumura Masanobu, Beauty after the bath and Cockerel (c.1730)

Suzuki Harunobu, The Fashionable Romantic Adventures of Maneemon (Furyu enshoku Maneemon) (c.1768)

10 / 24 Suzuki Harunobu, The Fashionable Romantic Adventures of Maneemon (Furyu enshoku Maneemon) (c.1768)

Tsukioka Settei, Scroll of the Four Seasons (c.1768-72)

11 / 24 Tsukioka Settei, Scroll of the Four Seasons (c.1768-72)

Isoda Koryusai, Girl Spying on a Couple from Behind a Screen (c.1770))

12 / 24 Isoda Koryusai, Girl Spying on a Couple from Behind a Screen (c.1770))

Katsukawa Shunsho, from Erotic Images of Spring Evenings (1779)

13 / 24 Katsukawa Shunsho, from Erotic Images of Spring Evenings (1779)

Katsukawa Shuncho, from Collection of Suggestive Pictures (c.1780-90)

14 / 24 Katsukawa Shuncho, from Collection of Suggestive Pictures (c.1780-90)

Kitao Masanobu, The Treasure Boat (Takarabune) (c.1782)

15 / 24 Kitao Masanobu, The Treasure Boat (Takarabune) (c.1782)

Torii Kiyonaga, from The Sleeve Scroll (Sode no maki) (1785)

16 / 24 Torii Kiyonaga, from The Sleeve Scroll (Sode no maki) (1785)

Chokyosai Eiri, Clean Copy of Female Beauty (Fumi no kiyogaki) (1801)

17 / 24 Chokyosai Eiri, Clean Copy of Female Beauty (Fumi no kiyogaki) (1801)

Chobunsai Eishi, The Elephant's Leash (Kisa no tsuna) (c.1804-18)

18 / 24 Chobunsai Eishi, The Elephant's Leash (Kisa no tsuna) (c.1804-18)

19 / 24

Utagawa Toyokuni, Picture Book: Mirror of the Vagina (Ehon Kaichu Kagami) (1823)

20 / 24 Utagawa Toyokuni, Picture Book: Mirror of the Vagina (Ehon Kaichu Kagami) (1823)

Keisai Eisen, Watergames (Mizuasobi) (c.1825)

21 / 24 Keisai Eisen, Watergames (Mizuasobi) (c.1825)

Katsushika Hokusai, from Plovers above the Waves (c.1828-9)

22 / 24 Katsushika Hokusai, from Plovers above the Waves (c.1828-9)

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, from Eight Views of Omi (OMi hakkei) (c.1833)

23 / 24 Utagawa Kuniyoshi, from Eight Views of Omi (OMi hakkei) (c.1833)

Utagawa Kunisada, Genji of the East [Charm of Flowers and Birds] ([Kacho yojo] Azuma Genji) (1837)

24 / 24 Utagawa Kunisada, Genji of the East [Charm of Flowers and Birds] ([Kacho yojo] Azuma Genji) (1837)


One of the greatest exponents of 18th century Japanese art, Kitagawa Utamaro is predominantly acclaimed for his ukiyo-e - 'pictures of the Floating World'. In the second half of the eighteenth century, art devoted to erotic subjects climaxed with the representations by the great courtesans Utamaro, Kiyonaga and Eishi in particular. Utamaro's speciality was the depiction of women and specifically the courtesans of Yoshiwara, the regulated brothel district of Edo, and his shunga works (sexually explicit images known as 'spring pictures') stand out from those of his peers for their delicate depictions of drapery and interiors.

Utamaro is currently the subject of an exhibition, Kitagawa Utamaro, on show at Birmingham's Ikon Gallery until 14 November. 


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