135 results in English
An Actor in the Role of Sato Norikiyo who Becomes Saigyo: An Actor in the Role of Yoshinaka
The Japanese art of Ukiyo-e (“Pictures of the floating [or sorrowful] world”) developed in the city of Edo (now Tokyo) during the Tokugawa or Edo Period (1600-1868), a relatively peaceful era during which the Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan and made Edo the seat of power. The Ukiyo-e tradition of woodblock printing and painting continued into the 20th century. This diptych print of between 1849 and 1852 shows Saigyō surrounded by men trying to prevent him from leaving his house to become a priest. The poet Saigyō (1118-90) was born into ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Peony and Canary
The Japanese art of Ukiyo-e (“Pictures of the floating [or sorrowful] world”) developed in the city of Edo (now Tokyo) during the Tokugawa or Edo Period (1600-1868), a relatively peaceful era during which the Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan and made Edo the seat of power. The Ukiyo-e tradition of woodblock printing and painting continued into the 20th century. This print, made in 1833 or 1834, is part of the series "Small Flowers" by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). It is unusual in its background color and its size. Other examples of this ...
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Ismāʻīl, the Persian Ambassador of Ṭahmāsp, King of Persia
Melchior Lorck, or Lorichs (1527–circa 1590), was the most brilliant graphic artist in 16th-century Denmark. He was born in Flensburg of distinguished parents; the Danish kings took up residence in the Lorck house when visiting the city. In 1549 King Christian III gave Lorck financial support to go on an educational journey. Lorck’s wanderlust led him throughout Europe and in the end to Vienna, where he gained employment with Emperor Charles V. From 1555 to 1559 Lorck was one of three ambassadors sent by the emperor to Constantinople ...
Meditations, or the Contemplations of the Most Devout
Meditationes, seu Contemplationes devotissimae (Meditations, or the contemplations of the most devout) by Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388–1468) is thought to be the first Italian book illustrated with a series of woodcut images. The first edition was printed in Rome in 1467 by the German printer Ulrich Han. Presented here is a 1479 edition, printed in Mainz by Johann Neumeister (circa 1440–circa 1512), a German cleric and printer who claimed to have been a student of Johann Gutenberg. The designs of the 33 woodcuts, although considered rough by ...
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Epistles, Gospels, and Popular Readings in the Tuscan Language
This devotional book in Italian ('the language of Tuscany'), published in 1495 by Piero Pacini da Pescia (active, circa 1495-1514), is considered the greatest Florentine illustrated book of the 15th century. It contains 144 large woodcuts, all but eight original to this text, 24 small images of saints and prophets, and a series of 14 different border styles. The large number of images, along with the quality of the designs and execution, make this work a treasure of Florentine design and one of the truly important sources for the study ...
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The Sanmai-bashi Bridges in Ueno
This nishiki-e (Japanese multicolored woodblock print of ukiyo-e) depicts beautiful women coming and going in front of the Sanmai-bashi Bridges (“three bridges side by side”) in Ueno-hirokōji, Edo (present-day Tokyo). Cherry trees in the woods around Kan’ei-ji Temple can be seen in the distance. Kan’ei-ji Temple was well known as the best cherry blossom-viewing spot in the city of Edo, and even now, many people visit it in the cherry blossom season. In the foreground are the three bridges side by side. The women appear to be taking ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Map of the Whole World
The first world map published in Japan appeared in 1645. Shown here is a popular version of that first map, published in 1671. It is divided into two parts: the right side contains an oblong egg-shaped world map with the east at the top, while the left side depicts people from 40 countries in national costume. The latter are arrayed in five rows of eight, depicting people both of existing countries, such as Portugal and the Netherlands, and imaginary countries, such as “Dwarf Country” and “Giant Country.” These maps are ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Girl's Day
The Japanese art of Ukiyo-e (“Pictures of the floating [or sorrowful] world”) developed in the city of Edo (now Tokyo) during the Tokugawa or Edo Period (1600-1868), a relatively peaceful era during which the Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan and made Edo the seat of power. The Ukiyo-e tradition of woodblock printing and painting continued into the 20th century. This print is one sheet of an illustrated book from between 1716 and 1736. It shows three richly dressed women or girls eating and drinking, probably celebrating Hina Matsuri (Girl's day ...
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The Tongue-Cut Sparrow
This is a chirimen-bon (crepe-paper book), which is a compact watojihon (book bound in a traditional Japanese bookbinding style) containing woodblock-printed pictures and text.  It was called a chirimen-bon because the paper was crinkled until it assumed a cloth-like texture. Published from the middle of the Meiji period until the beginning of the Showa period, chirimen-bon were illustrated translations of Japanese folk stories that were originally intended to increase the exposure of Japanese people to foreign languages after kaikoku (the reopening of Japan in the mid-19th century). However, they soon ...
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The Old Man Who Made the Dead Trees Blossom
Presented here is a compact watojihon (book bound in a traditional Japanese bookbinding style) containing pictures and text that are woodblock-printed on textureless paper called hiragami (flat paper). Kobunsha, the publishing company managed by Takejirō Hasegawa, started to translate and publish Nihon Mukashibanashi (Japanese fairy tale series) in 1885. Hanasaki Jiji (The old man who made the dead trees blossom) is a story from the series. It tells of a nice old married couple who kept a pet dog. One day when they dug at a place indicated by the ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
A Complete Map of the Mountains and Oceans of the World
Sankai yochi zenzu (A complete map of the mountains and oceans of the world) is a Japanese map of the world, created around 1785 by Sekisui Nagakubo (1717−1801). The map is based on the 1602 edition of Matteo Ricci’s Great Universal Geographic Map in Chinese, first produced in 1584. It is a hand-colored wood-block print, showing the world’s continents and seas, with relief shown pictorially. An alternative title, Chikyū bankoku sankai yochi zenzusetsu (A complete illustration of the globe, all the countries, and the mountains and oceans ...
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Adam and Eve in Paradise
Lucas Cranach, the Elder (1472-1553) was a leading artist of the German Renaissance. He served as court painter at Wittenberg to Frederick the Wise of Saxony and was a friend and advocate of Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation. He was also a master printmaker. This 1509 woodcut depicts Adam and Eve beneath an apple tree, surrounded by animals, with Eve being tempted by the serpent. Man’s fall from grace was a popular theme in the Reformation era. Between 1510 and 1540 Cranach painted Adam and Eve ...
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Small Passion. The Expulsion from Paradise
Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) is generally considered Germany’s greatest artist. In addition to being one of the monumental figures in the history of Western printmaking, he was a painter and wrote important early works of artistic theory dealing with such topics as geometry, perspective, and the measurements of the human body. Much of his work was religious. From his early 20s until his death at the age of 57, Dürer worked on at least six different versions of the Passion--the story of Christ's suffering between the Last Supper and ...
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Warrior Asahina Kobayashi
The Japanese art of Ukiyo-e (“Pictures of the floating [or sorrowful] world”) developed in the city of Edo (now Tokyo) during the Tokugawa or Edo Period (1600-1868), a relatively peaceful era during which the Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan and made Edo the seat of power. The Ukiyo-e tradition of woodblock printing and painting continued into the 20th century. This 1862 print is a half-length portrait of an actor, wearing a robe with a bird motif, in the role of Asahina. The print is from the series The 36 Stars of ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Zhong Kui Painted by Sesshu
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. Isoda Koryūsai, who flourished 1764–88, significantly contributed to the development ...
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Flirtatious Lover
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This ukiyo-e print is a part of the series Fujin Sōgaku ...
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Ichikawa Ebizō as Takemura Sadanoshin
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. In this yakusha-e (pictures of actors) by Tōshusai Sharaku, a famous ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Plum Tree of a Country Farmhouse
Along with new artwork, a new and less formal style of poetry called haikai (linked verse) spread among the urbanites of Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo in 17th-century Japan. Haikai was also very much a social activity, with linked-verse parties held on regular occasions in homes or at restaurants. Such poetic gatherings helped give rise to privately commissioned woodblock prints, called surimono (printed matter), which paired images with representative verses from the circle. Both were typically intended to carry the cachet of “insider knowledge” for a cultured and well-educated audience. Because ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Updated Version of Hagoromo
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This playful print by Ishikawa Toyonobu (1711–85) depicts a scene ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Catching Cicadas
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This print is a page from an egoyomi (pictorial calendar), which ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Heian Period Tale of the Nightingale in the Plum Tree
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This print by Kitao Shigemasa (1739–1820) illustrates an 11th-century tale ...
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Kume the Immortal Spies on a Beauty
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This sumizuri-e (monochrome print) is unsigned, but recent scholars have attributed ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Shibaura
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) was a prolific artist and woodblock printer ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
A View of Nakazu
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. Utagawa Toyoharu (1735–1814) was the founder of the Utagawa school ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Courtesan
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. Shunshō (1726–93) was a leading artist of the Katsukawa school ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Courtesan Gazing at Nihon Embankment
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. Bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) capture the trends in feminine beauty ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Actor Ichikawa Danjūrō in the Role of Kudō Suketsune
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. Yakusha-e (pictures of actors) were inexpensive, costing about as much as ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Actors Ichikawa Raizō in the Role of Umeōmaru and Nakajima Mihoemon in the Role of Shihei
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. The designer of this print is not known with certainty, but ...
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Toragaishi
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This print is a page from an illustrated album, Allegory of ...
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Three Actors
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This print features a central male actor holding a sake container ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Chinese Gentleman and Stableboy Exchanging a Light with their Pipes
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. Suzuki Harunobu (circa 1725–70) was a central figure in developing ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Cry of the Crane
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. These two prints are by Okumura Masanobu (1686–1764). The larger ...
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The Young Girl Gyokkashi Eimo
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This nishiki-e (full-color print) shows Gyokkashi Eimo, a young girl with ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Sake Cup
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This print is from the series Meriyasu Eshō (a selection of ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Actor Sanogawa Ichimatsu in the Role of Shakkyō Dancer
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This print depicts popular Kabuki actor Sanogawa Ichimatsu performing the lion ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Gajō icchō
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. These woodblock ukiyo-e prints are selections from the series Meisho Edo ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
People of Many Nations
During the nearly two centuries of restricted foreign contact during the Edo period (1600–1868), the Japanese people still maintained a curiosity about foreign cultures. This map, published in the early 19th century, depicts an enormous archipelago representing Japan at the center of the world. Inset images and descriptions of foreign people, the distance from Japan to their lands, and differences in climate are noted. The locations listed include the “Pygmy country, 14,000 ri” (1 ri = 2.4 miles), “Woman country, 14,000 ri,” and “Black people country, 75 ...
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Dutch, American, English
After nearly two centuries of restricted foreign contact, Japan became increasingly exposed to Western culture in the 1850s as new trade agreements prompted cross-cultural interaction. The influx of unfamiliar technology and customs gave rise to anxiety as well as awe among the Japanese people, whose curiosity about the external world is evident in the detailed depictions of foreign subjects by ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) artists. Yokohama-e (pictures of Yokohama) depicting the commercial trading port that connected Japan to the West, as well as Western culture in general, became ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
A North American: Portrait of Perry
Commodore Matthew C. Perry entered the port of Yokohama in 1853 with an intimidating fleet of steam warships, in order to compel Japan to open up after nearly two centuries of restricted foreign contact. The Japanese people became increasingly exposed to Western culture as new trade agreements prompted cross-cultural interaction. The influx of unfamiliar technology and customs gave rise to anxiety as well as awe among the Japanese people, whose curiosity about the external world is evident in the detailed depictions of foreign subjects by ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Tagasago Couple in the Hollow of a Pine Tree
A new and less formal style of poetry called haikai (linked verse) spread among the urbanites of Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo in 17th-century Japan. Haikai was also very much a social activity, with linked-verse parties held on regular occasions in homes or at restaurants. Such poetic gatherings helped give rise to privately commissioned woodblock prints, called surimono (printed matter), which paired images with representative verses from the circle. Both were typically intended to carry the cachet of “insider knowledge” for a cultured and well-educated audience. Because such surimono were not ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Kinko and Echizen
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. Black-and-white compositions like this one are known as sumizuri-e because they ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Actor Nakayama Tomisaburo
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This print is one of only seven known works, all portraits ...
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