Ukiyo-e, Japanese prints 浮世絵

All about Ukiyo-e, the Japanese art of printmaking

Ukiyo-e is an artistic movement that reached its peak during the Edo period (1603 - 1868). Very marked by the print which is the main representative, this art intended for the bourgeoisie is marked by themes of everyday life at that time.

Popular art representative of the petty bourgeois merchant class, the themes of the engravings are very varied and remain close to the concerns of the "little people": portraits of kabuki and noh theater actors to spread the popularity of these rulers of the plates, portraits courtesans for chilled lovers or for women wishing to keep abreast of the latest clothing fashions, sumotori portraits, genre scenes ...

Prints had above all a very important social role within the middle class of Edo.

One of the most surprising genres was undoubtedly the shunga , literally " images of spring" . These pornographic prints were hugely popular on the streets of major cities, where they were sold under kimono after the Tokugawa shogunate banned them. But the social importance of these censored works should not be overlooked. Very close to the community of courtesans , UTAMARO Kitagawa (1753-1806) excelled in this field.

Tōshūsai Sharaku, L'acteur de kabuki Ōtani Oniji III, 1794, MET New York

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Kitagawa Utamaro

Kitagawa Utamaro, Trois beautés de notre temps, 1793

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Hiroshige, Le pont Ōhashi à Atake, 1857

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