Japanese Woodcuts

Note: click on any of the images to see larger version

Kinko echizen 01792u - edited

Kinko and Echizen.

Two women, one seated writing a letter, the other pulling back the hair of a man sitting in front of a mirror, possibly an actor applying makeup. Created by Omori Yoshikiyo about 1700 – 1704.

1 print : woodcut ; 24.9 x 34.7 cm. (9.8 x 16.6 in.)

Library of Congress image.

Yoshikiyo was a ukiyo-e painter and book artist in Kyoto who illustrated some twenty books including Shidare yanagi (‘The Trailing Willow’)(1702).  (The Art of the Japanese Book)

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Shōki zu  02632u - edited

Shōki zu

Shōki striding.

Shōki the Chinese conqueror in a walking pose, facing left. Created by Masanobu Okumura

print, woodcut, color,  69.2 x 10.1 cm (27.2 x 4 in.)

Shōki zu  cropped and framedOkumura Masanobu (1686 – March 13, 1764) was a Japanese print designer, book publisher, and painter. He also illustrated novelettes and in his early years wrote some fiction. At first his work adhered to the Torii school, but later drifted beyond that. He is a figure in the formative era of ukiyo-e doing early works on actors and bijinga "beautiful women." (Wikipedia)

Shôki: The Chinese Demon Queller – this print by Okumura Masanobu  portrays Shôki, and is one of a number of versions depicting the famous Chinese queller of demons in a walking pose. The artistic style of this print is reminiscent of earlypainting techniques, as the block-printed lines vary in thickness like the calligraphic brush strokes of ink painters. (Library of Congress)

Note: The image on the right is cropped from the image on the right and digitally framed – 3/13/2013

Library of Congress image.

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Zashiki no yūjo to kamuro  01587u - edited 1900

Courtesan and Kamuro in a parlour.

Zashiki no yūjo to kamuro

Two girls in an interior, one seated reading a scroll, the other standing up looking into an insect cage. Created between 1764 and 1772 by Kitao Shigemasa.

print; woodcut, color ; 27.9 x 20.5 cm. (11.0 x 8.1 in.)

Kitao Shigemasa (1739 – March 8, 1820) was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist from Edo. He was one of the leading printmakers of his day, but his works have been slightly obscure. He is noted for paintings of geisha. He was taught by Shigenaga and has been referred to as "a chameleon" who adopted to changing styles. He was less active after the rise of Torii Kiyonaga and produced relatively few works considering the length of his career. He is also noted for his haikai (poetry) and shodō (Japanese calligraphy). In his later years he used the studio name Kosuisai. (Wikipedia)

Library of Congress image.

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Yume no ukihashi  01588u edited 1900

Yume no ukihashi

Dream Ukihashi.

Floating bridge of dreams. The poem in the image is a pun on the last chapter of Genj. Created 1854 by Utagawa Toyokuni.

print; woodcut, color; 24.8 x 17.7 cm. (9.8 x 7.0 in.)

Utagawa Toyokuni (1769 in Edo – February 24, 1825 in Edo), also often referred to as Toyokuni I, to distinguish him from the members of his school who took over his gō (art-name) after he died, was a great master of ukiyo-e, known in particular for his Kabuki actor prints. He was one of the heads of the renowned Utagawa school of Japanese woodblock artists, and was the person who really moved it to the position of great fame and power it occupied for the rest of the nineteenth century. (Wikipedia)

Library of Congress image.

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Mukōjima miyamoto musashi 01580u - edited

Mukōjima miyamoto musashi

Print by  Utagawa Kuniyoshi shows a head-and-shoulders portrait of the Japanese swordsman and rōnin,  Miyamoto Musashi; woodcut, color ; 36.4 x 24.8 cm. ( 14.3 x 9.8 in.)

In this print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861), famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi is seen in close-up, against the backdrop of Mukôjima. Such images show how Ukiyo-e masters mixed the illustration of literature, legend, or lore with the depiction of landscape. Out of such mixtures, Ukiyo-e developed traditions of its own.  (Library of Congress)

Miyamoto Musashi (c. 1584 – June 13, 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku, was a Japanese swordsman and rōnin. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age. He was the founder of the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship and the author of The Book of Five Rings, a book on strategy, tactics, and philosophy that is still studied today. (Wikipedia)

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (January 1, 1797 – April 14, 1862) was one of the last great masters of the Japanese ukiyo-e style of woodblock prints and painting. He is associated with the Utagawa school. The range of Kuniyoshi’s preferred subjects included many genres: landscapes, beautiful women, Kabuki actors, cats, and mythical animals. He is known for depictions of the battles of samurai and legendary heroes. His artwork was affected by Western influences in landscape painting and caricature. (Wikipedia)

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Kinokuniya 01789u edited


A full-length portrait by Utagawa Toyokuni of the actor (Kinokuniya) Sawamura Sanj-ro III, facing left, holding a fan, in the role of Oboshi Yuranosuke. Japanese Wood-Cut Print, 38.1 x 25.4 cm. (15.0 x 10.0 in.), Ukiyo-e

This print is from the series Forms of Actors on Stage (Yakusha Butai no Sugata-e) by Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825). Each actor in this series is shown full length in a simple, distinctive pose that captures a sense of immediacy. The print on view shows Sawamura Sanjûrô III (1753-1801), a leading actor at the Nakamura theater in Edo, famous for his large, fat ear lobes and his great round eyes. Toyokuni carefully portrayed these features of the actor in this print. (Library of Congress)

Library of Congress image.

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