“A magnificently detailed beach scene of two abalone divers having a sexual rollick.”
A basket containing shells is on the right; a few are scattered in the foreground. The ragged lines of the red cloth are reminiscent of the work of Katsushika Hokusai.
Japanese abalone divers, or ama, dove for shellfish in coastal waters and collected them in floating baskets of the type portrayed in this painting. Abalone divers were predominantly women, and the method of collecting without the use of masks (and certainly not diving suits!) had been practised in Japan since ancient times.
Evans (1975: pl.6.112) reproduces a similar late-nineteenth century painting also clearly modelled on Yanagawa Shigenobu’s famous print from the Suetsumuhana (A Dyer’s Saffron) -series (c.1830).
Original Japanese erotic color painting.