Japanese Woodblock Prints (1600 - 1800)
Early ukiyo-e, or pictures (e) of the floating world (ukiyo), emerged around 1660 with monochrome prints. The masters of this “primitive” period, such as Moronobu and Masanobu, are known for their elegant and vital lines. By 1700, the first early color prints emerged. Hand-colored with vegetable-based pigments, this process proved costly and was replaced by full-color printing in 1765. Known as the father of color printing, Harunobu ushered in the era of nishiki-e, or brocade pictures, with sensitivity and subtlety. The late 18th century welcomed a “golden age” of ukiyo-e, during which time artists developed the use of color and diversified their approach to subject matter. Sharaku imbued his actor portraits with a greater sense of individualism, while Utamaro delved deeper into the “greenhouses” of the Yoshiwara, considering the private lives of courtesans. Browse our collection of early ukiyo-e below.