the series title cartouche in the upper right margin, the print title to the left with the first portion, Utamaro no, in the style of Utamaro's signature, followed by a picture of a kissing couple representing shunga; signed in gold kanji, Bin-ni, followed by artist's butterfly seal comprised of the letters Binnie, pencil numbered and signed on the bottom margin, 7/100 Paul Binnie, ca. 2005
The beauty's back tattoo is derived from one of the compositions included in Kitagawa Utamaro's (1753-1806) picture book from 1802: Pulling Komachi (Ehon Komachi-biki), a book of shunga, pictorial erotic art. Binnie preserved the woman's flowing purple robe and sideways posture but removed the mirror by which, in Utamaro's original image, she was fixing her hair. Instead, Binnie provides an unobstructed view of her long hair, while hiding the erotic act (suggested by the man's hand reaching down) on the far side of the model's back.
Of all of the designs in the Edo Ink series, this (and its red-ground counterpart, Engawa) has been the most popular. It seems only appropriate that Binnie's print paying homage to Utamaro, arguably the most successful ukiyo-e bijin artist, would likewise be one of Binnie's most successful works.
Series: A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo
Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art
Paul Binnie: A Dialogue with the Past - The First 100 Japanese Prints, 2007, p. 121, no. 84