Erotic Japonisme

Hotei Publishing (Brill, Leiden) has published the book Erotic Japonisme. The Influence of Japanese Sexual Imagery on Western Art.

Erotic Japonisme image

Japonisme or, in other words, the presence, the attraction and the impact of Japanese art, was one of the most fruitful artistic phenomenons which resulted from the relationships between the East and West. This book approaches the fascinating cultural phenomenon of Japonisme from an innovative standpoint: The arrival of Japanese erotic prints to the Western world and their impact on Western artists from mid-nineteenth century onwards.

By focusing on a less-known aspect of Japonisme, which up until now was not investigated seriously, the book documents and presents how the erotic shunga prints seduced a great number of people, converting thus into a fertile and original source of inspiration in Europe during the end of the nineteenth century, through the work of critics and writers, such as Goncourt, Huysmans or Zola, and of artists, such as Degas, Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rops, Beardsley, Klimt, Schiele, Kirchner or Picasso.


“A courageous challenge to the self-prohibited subject for scholars, Ricard Bru’s Erotic Japonisme brings an outstanding publication to the academic field. A contributor to the catalogue of the “Shunga” show in London and organizer of an important exhibition on Catalan Japonisme, Bru extensively researched Western works and text referring to erotic prints by ukiyo-e masters such as Kitagawa Utamaro and Katsushika Hokusai, in order to analyse and synthesize various influences of Japanese sexual imagery on Western Art. … What is impressive is the author’s broad perspective on the impact of shunga. This innovative and challenging book will not only lead Japonisme studies into a new phase, but will also make us more sensitive to cultural differences between Japan and the West” Atsushi Mirura, in Print Quarterly 2015.

“If there was a gap in the literature on Japonisme regarding shunga, it has now been filled by Bru’s handsome designed and illustrated book, which is indeed an important addition to the literature on the subject”  Max Put, in Andon 2014.

“Bru utilizes his expansive knowledge of European art and shunga to show how the discovery of shunga by European artists caused the shift toward new modes of portraying sex and eroticism from the 1880s onwards”. Michael Toole, in Japan Review 2015.

“By citing the evidence of documents, correspondence, and collections, and marshaling astute visual analyses, Ricard Bru offers and engaging and erudite account of how the awareness of Japanese erotic traditions served as a catalyst for change in a world already primed for cultural revolution. … This important book not only elucidates and contextualizes the western encounter with Japanese erotic imagery, but also suggests directions for further study.”. Laurinda S. Dixon, in Journal of Japonisme 2016.


Erotic JaponismeAuthor: Ricard Bru

Title: Erotic Japonisme. The Influence of Japanese Sexual Imagery on Western Art

Publisher: Hotei Publishing, Leiden, 2013

ISBN13: 9789004258327

Format: Paperback. 192 pages, with 200 illustrations



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