Shunga were usually part of albums and light center folds are the norm. It is also common to have light soiling around the edges due to use.
About the artist
Born to the well-known calligrapher Shigeharu, Eisen worked as a painter, printmaker and illustrator in Edo. As a young man, he studied Kano painting with Hakkeisai before pursuing illustration and printmaking under Eizan. It is said that Eisen was a brothel owner and held the reputation of a debaucher and a man of questionable personal conduct. Though he completed masterful nature studies and landscapes, he is best known for his beautiful women. In addition to his artistic oeuvre, Eisen authored Zoku Ukiyo-e Ruiko, an edited account of the history of ukiyo-e.
As ukiyo-e achieved an unprecedented popularity in the 1800s, bijin (beautiful women) were the stars of this period. Eisen’s beauties present a particular type of femininity: willful, self-assertive, voluptuous and vivacious. Balancing bold compositions with intricate kimono designs, Eisen’s bijin-ga bear a quiet sensuality.
“What a strange thing! to be alive beneath cherry blossoms.” - Kobayashi Issa