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Ukiyo-e

3,152 artworks, 17 artists
Ukiyo-e (japan. 浮世 絵) is one of the most famous types of Japanese engraving, which was popular in the 18—19th centuries. In Japanese, this name means “floating world”; the Edo era rethought it as “the world of the fleeting phenomena”. Ukiyo-e engravings are kind of historical documents, the paintings in which artists captured landscapes and prominent sights, life, activities and culture of people. This type of engraving is characterized by a clear drawing, bold composition, presence of perspective and the absence of shadowing.

The first ukiyo-e engravings appeared at the end of the 17th century,they were black and white, and they were drawn with ink. Drawings depicting courtesans, geishas, and kabuki theatre actors were popular among wealthy merchants. With the advent of monochrome printing techniques, ukiyo-e engravings have become more accessible to the general public. In the 18th century, artists began to colorize black-and-white prints by hand, and later the prints were made using the polychrome nishiki-e technique (“brocade pictures”). Making colour prints of ukiyo-e became simple and the new technology made it possible to make large print runs that were bought up by the townspeople. Paper fans, sliding screens, umbrellas were decorated with drawings. The works of the genre, made by hand, were expensive and only accessible to the nobility and wealthy people.

Ukiyo-e scenes were mainly typical paintings from the life of the Japanese: Japanese beauties (bijin-ga), actors of the kabuki theatre (yakusha-e), erotic pictures (shunga), flowers and birds (kachō-ga). Later, landscapes (fūkei-ga) and military paintings (musha-e), reflecting the historical milestones of the life of the Edo era people, appeared.

Ukiyo-e engravings had a great influence on the formation of Western perceptions of Japanese art, especially on the artists of impressionism, modernism and cubism. The World Exhibition in London (1864) and the World Exhibition in Paris (1867) presented to the wide European public not only Japanese colour prints of ukiyo-e, but also various products of artisans, including porcelain, kimono, screens, varnishes. “Japanism” has clearly manifested in the works by CézanneDegas and Monet, it became the starting point in the work of Vincent Van Gogh. Ukiyo-e engravings had a great influence on the paintings of such artists as James Whistler, Gustav Klimt, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.

Significant ukiyo-e paintings:
Two lovers embracing, Hishikawa Moronobu, 1680
The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Katsushika Hokusai, 1832
Three Beauties of the Present Day, Kitagawa Utamaro, 1793
Plum Park in Kameido, Utagawa Hiroshige, 1857
Sudden Shower over Shin-Ōhashi bridge and Atake, Utagawa Hiroshige, 1857

Ukiyo-e artists:
Hishikawa Moronobu, Katsushika Hokusai, Ando Hiroshige, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Kitagawa Utamaro, Suzuki Harunobu, Utagawa Kunisada, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.
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