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Ukiyo-e refers to the paintings of the floating world, "the world of transient pleasures that included courtesans and actors" and the life enjoyed by Japan's emerging middle class in the urban centers of Tokugawa Japan (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). "It is an art closely connected with the pleasures of theatres, restaurants, teahouses, geisha and courtesans..." (Johansson) The woodblock prints and paintings were produced between the 17th and 20th centuries and influenced European art and artists, especially the 19th century impressionists ("Ukiyo-e"). To your right, an early woodblock print of the actor Bando Mitsugoro by Kuniyasu (1794-1832,) also known as Utagawa Yasugoro.

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Because they were prints, ukiyo-e could be mass produced. In the travel boom of the early 19th century, especially along the Tokkaido Road, pilgrims eagerly bought Hokusai's prints, especially his "Thirty- Six Views of Mount Fuji." This series was Hokusai's "most famous...and The perfection of this composition grew from Hokusai's long study and analysis of form..." (The Los Angeles Museum of Art). This graphic from the "Thirty-Six Views" series contains no images of humans but expresses the might and power of Mt. Fuji. Hokusai and Hiroshige remain the two most famous and influential artists of the ukiyo-e genre.

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"Designed for Pleasure"--submitted by Ileana Castillo
"Night of Snow at Kambara" by Hiroshige, sent from Leilani Herzog
Hiroshige bridge scene, sent by Kelly Kalinske
"Shoshu Shichiri ga hama" by Hokusai, submitted by Alice Adelman
From "Views of Mt. Fuji," by Ogata Gekko, submitted by Amy Klivans.
Hiroshige's "Night View of Saruwaka" submitted by Nicola Schulze and Hannah Towne
Hiroshige's "Yatsumi Bridge," submitted by Kat Booher.
"Roseau sous la niege et canard sauvage" (Reed under snow and wild duck,") by Hiroshige, submitted by Theresa Floyd.
One of Hokusai's views of Mount Fuji, submitted by Ali Aronstam. It is actually not a woodblock print, but a painting on silk often entitled "The Dragon on Smoke Escaping from Mt. Fuji." (Breen)
Hokusai (title?) submitted by Anna Cvitovic
Hiroshige print, "Travelers and Porters Crossing a Steep Path," submitted by Bianka Mariscal
Utagawa print (title?) submitted by Elke Teichmann
Originally identified as one of Hokusai's "Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji," recent scholarship asserts that it is a print by Hiroshige, submitted by Rebecca Wang.


Hiroshige created this print, "Hakone" as one of his "Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido," submitted by Kennedy Flanders.

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Hokusai's print, "The Sazai Hall of the 500 Rakan Temple" is the collection of woodblock prints at Giverney, collected by Claude Monet (Caudelier)

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Hokusai completed this watercolor, entitled "Wagtail in a Snowfall," a different genre from the woodblock prints. I include it here to show you the rich variety of skills and interpretations that Hokusai was able to bring to his art. And, because I think it is particularly charming!

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We cannot conclude the examination of the ukiyo-e woodblock prints of "the floating world" without including Hokusai's most famous image, "In the Hollow of the Wave of the Coast off Kanagawa," completed in 1827. It has been replicated again and again, as you know. It forms the signature piece of Hokusai's "Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji."

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Breen, Jim. Jim Breen's Ukiyo-E Gallery. Online available.
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Cauderlier, A. "Hokusai Katsushika Japanese WoodBlocks in Claude Monet's Giverney Collection."
Intermonet. Online available. < >

"Hiroshige." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
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"Hokusai." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
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Johansson, Hans Olof. UKIYO-E: The Pictures of the Floating World.
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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Japanese Art. Online available.
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Malyon, John. "Artists by Movement: Ukiyo-e--Images from the Floating World.
Artcyclopedia. Online available.
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Terukazu, Akiyama. Treasures of Asia" Japanese Painting. New York: Skira/Rizzoli, 1977.

"Ukiyo-e." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
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