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The night of longing: Love and desire in Japanese prints

Beautiful Japanese prints depicting lovers from literature and life feature in this exhibition of woodcuts and books of the Edo and Meiji periods.

The displays explore how love and desire were presented and accepted in Japanese art during these eras, circa 1600 - 1900, looking at a selection of 40 prints and books by some of the most famous artists of the time including Harunobu, Utamaro, Hokusai, Hiroshige, Kunisada, Kuniyoshi and Yoshitoshi.

The prints range from chaste expressions of longing, such as a lover writing a poem or letter, through to prints of lovers during their most intimate moments.

In one print we see a courtesan writing the words ‘a night of longing’ on a scroll as she awaits her lover. Her poetic imagery suggests a more complex yearning that embraces love and the consequences of love, rather than simply desire and its gratification. It is this complex world of emotion, touched by poetic sentiment and shared across centuries, which provides the subject for The Night of Longing.

Images range from lovers yearning for absent partners and expressing their longing in letters and poems; dramatic scenes of thwarted or desperate lovers, sometimes on the verge of suicide; ‘risqué prints’ (abuna-e), with suggestions of eroticism or hints that sex is near at hand, through to more explicit images of sexual partners (shunga or ‘spring pictures’) and their contexts in erotic books; assignations in and around Edo (Tokyo) and the route to the pleasure quarter at night.

The exhibition is based on the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum and is designed to complement the exhibition at the British Museum Shunga: Sex and pleasure in Japanese Art (3 October 2013 - 5 January 2014)

PARENTAL GUIDANCE ADVISED

| 12:00 to 17:00
Shiba Gallery (14)
Free



Related Links

Online exhibition

Also of interest:
Japanese picture books by Utamaro