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Ukiyo-e to Shin Hanga: Changing Tastes in Japanese Woodblock Prints



Ukiyo-e to Shin Hanga: Changing Tastes in Japanese Woodblock Prints” illuminates the dramatic social, political, and economic shifts in Japanese culture between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries through a close look at two artists: Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) and Kawase Hasui (1883-1957). 

Commercially produced woodblock ukiyo-e, “pictures of the floating world,” were immensely popular during the Edo period (1615-1868) through the first half of the Meiji period (1868-1912). In Kunichika’s prints, we see a celebration of vivid Japanese storytelling. He is one of the last great  ukiyo-e masters and his career spanned the heyday of ukiyo-e until its demise towards the end of the 19th century. 

As Japanese demand for traditional woodblock prints declined, the innovative print publisher, Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885-1962), sought to bring it back to life. Starting in 1906, as a publisher of woodblock reproductions, Watanabe took ukiyo-e’s business model to create a new type of woodblock print, aptly called shin hanga, or “new prints.”  

Shin hanga portrayed traditional subject matter in a contemporary manner, its artists steeped in traditional Japanese and Western artistic styles. Of these artists, the most successful and prolific was Kawase Hasui, who specialized in landscape views.  

Hasui masterfully designed evocative images of a classical, scenic Japan while deftly incorporating Western-inspired shading and perspective to appeal to a wider audience. His contemporary landscapes focused on quiet scenes capturing the seasons with the occasional solitary figure in harmony with the natural world.  

As you wander among these prints, consider how ukiyo-e  and shin hanga influenced the Western world’s growing interest in Japanese style and desire to create something akin – in art, in fashion, in design, and even in establishing Japanese gardens outside of Japan. 

For the full exhibition overview, please see here.

To learn more about Toyohara Kunichika and Kawase Hasui, please see here.

Courtesy of the Irwin Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints

Exhibition Consultant: Lynn Katsumoto

Prints in the Exhibition

Toyohara Kunichika 豊原国周 (1835-1900)


https://sites.google.com/a/myjapanesehanga.com/www/home/artists/kunichika-toyohara-1835-1900-/the-actors-onoe-kikugoro-v-sawamura-gennosuke-iv-and-onoe-eiza-buro-v-in-unidentified-kabuki-play

“Negishi Annex of the New Yoshiwara Ōguchi Brothel” scene from the play, 

A Triptych of Ueno Scenery

(三幅対上野風景| 新吉原大口楼

根岸別荘の場)

1890 Starring Onoe Kikugorō V (R),

Sawamura Gennosuke IV (C) and

Onoe Kikusaburō V (L)


 “Mount Ashigara” scene,

an interlude entertainment

(明治座中幕|足柄山の場)

1896

Starring Ichikawa Danjūrō IX (R), Ichikawa Kodanji V (C) and

Ichikawa Sadanji I (L)



Pulling Pine Shoots in a Garden, with Suspension Bridge, from the series Genji of the Eastern Capital (東源氏之内|小松曳園生之釣橋) 1877



Leader of the Kinpeibai Quarters (金瓶梅廓魁) 1869

On Stage in September at the Asakusaza: A scene from

The Miraculous Cripple’s Revenge

at Hakone

(浅草座九月きょうげん

|箱根霊験躄仇討)

1893

Starring Ichikawa Kuzō III (R), Nakamura Shikan IV & Onoe Taganojō II (C) and Sawamura Tosshi VII (L)

“Sumida River” scene from

The Great Thief of the

Miyakodori Brothel

(都鳥廓白波|新嶋原新狂言隅田川の場) 1873

Starring Bandō Hikosaburō V (R), Sawamura Tosshō II (C) and Nakamura Kanjaku III (L)




Kataoka Gadō, Nakamura Fukusuke and Iwai Matsunosuke in Hibariyama koma tsunagi matsu

“Snow Torture” scene from

The Pine Tree to which a Colt is

Bound on Skylark Mountain

(雲雀山駒絆松樹|雪責)

1887

Starring Kataoka Gadō III (R),

Nakamura Fukusuke IV (C) and

Iwai Matsunosuke (L)



Onoe Taganojō II as Kidomaru, Ichikawa Danjūrō IX as Hirai Yasumasa, Nakamura Shikan IV as Hakamadare no Yasusuke [in Yanagi Sakura Azuma no Nishiki-e]

“Night Encounter on the Ichihara Moor”

scene from An Eastern Capital Brocade

Picture of Willow Cherry

(柳桜東錦絵|市原野のだんまり)

1883 

Starring Onoe Taganojō II (R),

Ichikawa Danjūrō IX (C) and

Nakamura Shikan IV (L)





Evening at Sōemon-chō, Osaka, from the series Collection of Scenic Views of Japan II, Kansai Edition (日本風景集II 関西篇 |大坂宗右衛門町の夕) originally published 1933; this impression from a later edition

  Honmon Temple, Ikegami (池上本門寺) originally published 1931; this impression from a posthumous edition printed from the original blocks

Rain in Maekawa, Sōshū, from the series Selection of Views of the Tōkaidō (東海道風景選集|相州前川の雨) originally published 1932; this posthumous impression from original woodblocks bears a seal indicating a printing after 1989


Teranohama, Sanuki, from the series Collection of Scenic Views of Japan II, Kansai Edition (日本風景集II 関西篇 |讃岐海岸寺の浜) originally published 1934; this impression from a later edition

Zensetsū Temple, Sanshū

from the series

Collection of Scenic Views of Japan II, Kansai Edition

(日本風景集II 関西篇|讃州善通寺) originally published 1937; this impression from a later lifetime printing


Night at Shinobazu Pond (夜の池畔[不忍池]) originally published 1932; this impression from late 20th century


Nenokuchi, Towada, from the series Collection of Scenic Views of Japan II, Eastern Edition (日本風景集II 東日本篇 |十和田子之口) originally published 1933; this impression from first edition of 100 prints with "D"-type seal  

Senjō Cliff, Lake Towada

from the series

Collection of Scenic Views of Japan, Eastern Edition 

(日本風景集II 東日本篇 |十和田 千丈幕) originally published 1933; this impression from first edition of 100 prints with "E"-type seal

Azuma Gorge (吾妻峡) 1943; likely first edition


Snow at Hi Marsh, Mito (水戸 涸沼の雪) originally published 1947; this impression printed posthumously

Snow at Heian Shrine, Kyoto (平安神宮の雪[京都]) 1948; likely first edition

Evening Rain in Kawarago
(河原子の夜雨)
1947; likely first edition


Chūzenji, Utagahama
Chūzenji, Utagahama
(中禅寺 歌ヶ浜)
originally published 1931;
this impression from a postwar lifetime printing

Daimotsu, Amagasaki from the series Collection of Scenic Views of Japan II, Eastern Edition (日本風景集II 関西篇 尼崎大物) originally published 1940, this impression from a later lifetime printing
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