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 Hyakkei (100 Famous views of Edo) by Utagawa Hiroshige, bound as a gajō (album of fan-folded prints). Hiroshige (1795–1858) is known as one of the foremost ukiyo-e artists of landscape imagery, expressing nature and daily scenes with clever designs and surprising perspectives. He made use of the development of nishiki-e (full-color prints) by employing such techniques as gradation, adding visual depth to the scenery. This particular series depicts sites of historical, geographical, seasonal, as well as cultural relevance in Edo, and was the last masterpiece of his life.
Title in Original Language
Type of Item
1 album (50 prints) : woodcut, color ; 36.3 x 24.1 centimeters
- Forms part of: Visual materials from Donald D. Walker collection
- From the series: Meisho edo hyakkei : 100 famous views of Edo.
Last updated: July 26, 2012