Eisen Tomioka – The Silhouette, “Oh, I’m envious!” (shunga, NSFW)

$450.00

A rare and unique piece of Japanese erotica (shunga) from 1890 in exceptional condition. While female masturbation and ecstasy was a common topic, this illustration is of a female voyeur (typically male) masturbating while watching another couple through the shades, visible only as silhouettes. In a way, we the viewers are the voyeurs of a voyeur!

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SKU: MLS2021346 Category: Tag:

The Japanese art category of shunga (Japanese erotic art) can be wide ranging, from lurid mythological scenes to what would be considered hardcore pornography by today’s standards. This woodblock is an interesting piece of shunga, which is why we acquired it as opposed to much of the, shall we say “straightforward” shunga that gets offered.

This small woodblock, measuring approximately 5″x7.5″, was created by the noted artist Eisen Tomioka, well know and regarded for his fine illustration work for books, magazines and newspapers. He did a number of shunga, with many seeming to have been included within (and often folded inside) Japanese romance novels. Bringing us to the subject, while female masturbation and ecstasy was a common topic, this illustration is of a female voyeur (typically male) masturbating while watching another couple through the shades, visible only as silhouettes. In a way, we the viewers are the voyeurs of a voyeur!

The Woodblock Print

This woodblock, measuring approximately 5″x7.5″, is in very good condition based on how it was published (folded within a book so there are natural creases). Exceptional color based on all of the other examples we’ve been able to find, unbacked, and no staining or discoloration to the print. There is incredibly small separation occurring in the right crease, but only visible against light. Delicate bokashi shading that is not evident in other examples.

About the Artist

Eisen Tomioka (1864-1905) was well known for his focus on the fashions and subtleties of the world around him. This sensitivity is reflected in his kuchi-e and sashi-e (front pieces for books and magazines) where his skills as a draftsman shown. Born Tomioka Hidetaro in Shinshu (modern Nagano prefecture), Eisen was the oldest son of a retainer to the daimyo Matsushiro. At age 15, Eisen’s father passed away and the young artist set off to Tokyo to become a draftsman. In 1878, he worked for the office of the army general staff, yet shifted his focus to the study of painting in 1882. He continued his drafting job, but began to design kuchi-e (frontispieces of books, especially woodblock printed frontispieces for Japanese romance novels), under the tutelage of Kano painter Eitaku Kobayashi.

Following the death of his teacher in 1890, Eisen Tomioka left the world of draftsmanship and became an independent artist. From 1892 forward, he was an overwhelmingly popular artist of sashi-e (book or newspaper illustrations). From the Miyako shinbun, an eagerly read newspaper in Tokyo’s lowlands, to Shokokumin, another popular publication, the public hungered for Eisen’s illustrations. He received commissions for books and single-sheet prints as well, and purportedly made a decent living from his artwork.

Artist

Tomioka, Eisen

Condition

(A) Very Fine Condition

Date

1870s-1890s

Movement

Ukiyo-e

Size

5"x7"

Subjects

Shunga (NSFW)