Japanese Woodblock Prints
A constantly changing collection of C.19th and C.20th woodblock prints, from the printmakers of the Edo, Meiji and Shin-Hanga eras of Japanese art.
These highly collectable, and beautiful prints vary in price from £40 to £6,000 or more. Often more than a century old they represent a highly populist art, described as Ukiyo-e, or 'pictures of the floating world'. The floating world is an expression meaning the fleeting, ephemeral pleasures of life (mostly for Japanese men), the theatre, beautiful women, or courtesans, folklore stories and the beauty of flowers and plants.
Ukiyo-e printmaking dates from the 17th Century, with early prints being black and white; colour coming in as dies and pigments were more readily available, and prints were made by carving more than one block to produce highly complex designs. The prints were finely carved from hardwood with enormous skill, but were not perceived as fine art, being produced by the thousand as commercial art. Over the centuries many prints were destroyed and not respected for the skill they represent: in fact the French impressionist painters only discovered them because they were wrapped around crockery as packing. Their unique style came as a revelation and this quirk of fate helped to shape the future of modern European art. Some of these highly influential prints are now very rare and collectable and are traded around the world.
Woodblock print periods: