The most famous works of Japanese wood engravings owe their existence to an accident in a German pharmacy laboratory. In 1706, two scientists in Berlin were preparing a batch of red pigment obtained from cochineal insects, ferrous sulfate and potassium salts, when their mixture mysteriously turned dark blue. After a thorough investigation, they concluded that the fourth element - the blood of animals - contaminated their mixture and accidentally produced iron ferrocyanide. Thus, the world's first synthetic pigment (later known as Berlin Blue / Prussian Blue) was obtained.
Ferrocyanide iron was first used in the production of European works of art in 1709. By the 1820s, it was exported to Japan, where artists found that it is much more durable than traditional organic pigments, such as indigo, which quickly disappears when exposed to ultraviolet light. The discovery of this dye inspired artists to create works entirely or predominantly in blue - an artistic movement known as Aizuri-e (literally “drawings with a blue print”), the most prominent example of which is “The Great Wave at Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai.
In thisexhibition Examples of Aizuri-e from artists such as Keisai Eisen, Utagawa Kunisad and Katsushika Hokusai are considered.