Kitagawa Utamaro, Poem of the Pillow (Utamakura) (1788)
Oban yoko-e, set of 12 prints, nishiki-e


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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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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Poem of the Pillow (2010)