September 2006

Japanese Prints of the Mid-Nineteenth Century: 1830–1865

September 20–October 24, 2006

Japanese prints from the mid-19th century was the theme of Sebastian Izzard’s Fall exhibition. Anchored by a number of fine landscapes from the 1830s and 1850s, this exhibit explored the print making world in the last decades of the Edo period (1615-1867).

Driven by a new, nationwide, demand, artists of the Utagawa School, in particular, responded by expanding the range of ukiyo-e from traditional portraits of actors and courtesans, to new genres which included landscapes of famous places, warrior prints, pictures of Prince Genji, and even such exotica as foreigners in the port of Yokohama. Representative works by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1865), Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826–1869), and Utagawa Sadahide (1807–1873) were included.

In terms of printmaking itself, this period saw the technology of printing and engraving reach previously unseen levels of refinement, and the use of fine engraving, expensive pigments, and luxurious papers became commonplace. The result was stunning compositions with bold and dynamic designs, enhanced by unusual colors and elaborate printing techniques.