Artist: Suzuki Harunobu (鈴木春信)

Print: Lovers on boat

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Dates: circa 1768,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,7.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Related links: British Museum; Musée Guimet;

Physical description:

Erotica, or shunga (i.e., spring pictures - 春画), were a type of print that were generally neither signed nor approved by the censors. They were officially frowned upon although millions of impressions were produced. Hayakawa Monta noted in his essay "Who Were the Audiences for Shunga?", on page 45 of Shunga: sex and pleasure in Japanese Art: "In addition to Eisen, virtually all of ukiyo-e artists thought to be of samurai class, such as Harunobu, Isoda Koryūsai, Hosoda Eishi (1756-1829) and Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), also created shunga."

The curatorial notes from the British Museum say of this print: "The place may be the shallows of the Sumida River at Mitsumata, between Eitai and Shin'o Bridges, with the corner of the garden of Lord Tayasu's residence in the background."

It should also be noted that the British Museum refers to this print as only attributed to Harunobu.


This print has been reproduced often. It appears on page 120, fig. 132, of Ukiyo-e: The Art of the Japanese Print by Frederick Harris. He wrote: "In this print, a fisherman takes time off from his work to enjoy a little fun with a young woman. Who could she be? Her kimono is rather plain and there are no adornments in her hair. She is not a courtesan, perhaps a young person from the docks. They are lying behind a large fishing net designed to catch very small fish, judging from the basket and relatively small wood containers. The man is hairy a feature almost never present on a samurai or nobleman. Only fishermen, carpenters and other tradesmen would be given hair on their arms and legs."

Also illustrated in color in Japanese Prints: Images of the Floating World, Barry Davies Oriental Art, #10, illustrated on p. 21.