This is a shunga scroll of exceptional interest, as it is a specially commissioned work by Kunisada, who was one of the leading ukiyo-e artists of the period. It is also unusual in that it contains thirteen scenes, traditionally shunga scrolls and print series contained twelve separate designs.
Twelve of these paintings depict various scenes of amorous activity ranging from the romantic to the athletic, including, among others, such favourite themes as an aristocratic couple from the Heian Period; a couple under spring blossoms; one gentleman with two ladies; and a couple under a mosquito net.
In this instance, the unusual thirteenth painting portrays none other than the immensely popular actor Ichikawa Danjuro VII (1791-1859) with a lady in a luxurious interior, unaware that they are being watched by a servant girl in the corridor.
During the Edo Period there was close collaboration between actors, playwrights, authors, artists and members of the demi-monde, so, although it is unusual, it is not totally surprising to see a leading actor of the day portrayed in such a setting.
In similar examples, an earlier print by Kunisada showed the actor Sawamura Sojuro seated in a Yoshiwara brothel listening to courtesans reading poetry: a shunga book of this period, attributed to Toyokuni I, showed Ichikawa Danjuro in an erotic setting (illustrated in Fagioli, M., Shunga--Ars Amandi in Giappone p.114 (Octavo, 1997)) while the actor Bando Mitsugoro and the actor Onoe Kikugoro, were also portrayed by Kunisada in homosexual scenes in the shunga book Fuzoku Suikoden.
These paintings are of outsanding quality and in them, Kunisada employed a wide variety of opulent colours and expensive pigments, paying great attention to the various textile designs depicted. This achieves a sumptuous de luxe effect.