The school of Japanese art best known in the West is that of the Ukiyo-e paintings and woodblock prints of the demimonde, the world of the kabuki theatre and the brothel district. Ukiyo-e prints began to be produced in the late 17th century, but in 1764 Harunobu produced the first polychrome print. Printmakers of the next generation, including Torii Kiyonaga and Utamaro, created elegant and sometimes closely observed depictions of courtesans.
    In the 19th century the dominant exponent of Ukiyo-e was Hokusai, who applied his brilliant gifts throughout his long life to landscapes, figures, and every kind of scene, executed as paintings or prints. His Ukiyo-e image "The Breaking Wave of Kanagawa" (see below, on the right), a print of the cycle "The Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji" is probably the best known picture in Japanese art.
Tip: Please point on  the images with the mouse index to get more information about the works of of art displayed.

1996. A Beatuful Women Looking Back, by Morunobu. The Moon and Wild Geese, by Hiroshige Uganda. 1989. Fuji and the Breaking Wave of Kanagawa, by Hokusai

    His most gifted contemporary was Hiroshige, a creator of romantic landscape prints. See above one of his most famous paintings, "The Moon and Wild Geese". The odd angles and shapes through which Hokusai and Hiroshige often viewed landscape, and the work of Kiyonaga and Utamaro, with its emphasis on flat planes and strong linear outlines, had a profound impact on such Western artists as Edgar Degas and Vincent van Gogh.

1978. Kanbun Bijinzu Folding Screen, Edo Period 1955. A Girl Blowing Glass Toy, by Utamaro

    Another school of painting contemporary with Ukiyo-e was Bunjinga, whose style was based on paintings executed by Chinese scholar-painters.

1967. Lakeside (Seated Woman), by Seiki (Kiyoteru) Kuroda 1969. Hair (Kami), by Kokey Kobayashi 1966. Butterflies, by Takeji Fujishima

Just as Ukiyo-e artists chose to depict figures from life outside the strictures of the Tokugawa shogunate, Bunjin artists turned to Chinese culture. The exemplary exponents of this style are Ike Taiga, Yosa Buson, Tanomura Chikuden, and Yamamoto Baiitsu. (After Microsoft Encarta 1996.)

1982. View of the Snow on Matsuchiyama, by Kiyonago Torii

Background: Shibata Zesshin (1807-1891). Blossom branches and bamboo. Cologne, Herbig-Haarhaus Lacquer Museum.

Created: May 1999. Revised: 07/15/04.
Copyright 1999 - 2004 by Victor Manta, Switzerland.
All rights reserved in all countries.

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