Ukiyo-e

1620 - 1912

Japanese for ‘pictures of the floating world’ and referring to transient everyday life, it provided a major source of imagery in Japanese art from the 17th to the 19th centuries, particularly in the work of printmakers such as Hiroshige, Hokusai, and Utamaro. Typical subjects included theatre scenes, with actors in well-known roles, and views of the night-life of Edo (as Tokyo was then called). The resulting brightly coloured Woodcut prints were imported into Europe from the middle of the 19th century and had a great influence on many avant-garde artists, including the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, who were particularly attracted by the bold compositions and striking colours of Ukiyo-e prints. See Japanese Prints.
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© Grove Art / OUP

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