Paul Binnie Utamaro's Erotica

Paul Binnie “Utamaro's Erotica” artwork
The newest print in my series Edo Sumi Hyaku Shoku (A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo) will be on sale shortly: entitled Utamaro No Shunga, it is an image of a young girl tattooed with an erotic design by Utamaro, the great late-18th century artist of beauties, derived from his album e-hon Komachi Biki, while the cartouche design comes from his famous Utamakura album. The art of tattooing in Japan has evolved, some might say declined, a great deal since the Edo period, and as many people have rightly pointed out, young ladies would be highly unlikely today to decide to have a large design placed on their backs like this, but this whole series is a work of the imagination, and plodding reality must be replaced with the romanticism of the image, and I hope we can suspend our disbelief long enough to appreciate the idea of the lovely young woman tattooed with a great master's work. As before in this series, the edition will be 100, and the image size is 38 x 26cm, on paper approximately 42 x 29cm, and will be the same price as other prints in this series. I have used metallic pigments and lacquer detailing in the hair, and this time the seal, which spells 'Paul Binnie' in stylised form, is in the shape of a butterfly, recalling Puccini's beautiful heroine. Certain collectors will know that the blocks were used for a small edition of this design without tattoo, which is being distributed exclusively by my Dutch dealer, Eric van den Ing of Saru Gallery, in quite a different colour scheme, and called Engawa, after the veranda upon which she is sitting. In the future there will be a second female design in this series, Harunobu No Furo, with a young woman bathing, and showing a tattoo of a mid-18th century beauty doing the same in a bathtub while Hokusai No Taki will be based on Hokusai's famous Waterfalls series, and will be a male tattoo subject appearing later this year.
Paul Binnie, .
Paul Binnie
Utamaro's Erotica
Japanese title
Utamaro no shunga 歌麿の春画
Series title
A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo
Japanese series title
Edo sumi hyaku shoku 江戸墨百色
Colour woodblock print on paper
Paper dimensions (h × w)
43.2 × 29.8 cm
Image dimensions (h × w)
38.5 × 26.5 cm
Edition size
Artist's proofs
3 known
Paul Binnie
Paul Binnie
Beautiful Women (Bijin 美人)
Tattoos (Irezumi 刺青)
Tattooed version of Engawa
Van den Ing, E (ed.) , Paul Binnie: A Dialogue with the Past, Art Media Resources, Chicago, p. 121
Metropolitan Museum of Art collection
Catalogue number
84 (L106)
Supplementary images