Shinsai (c.1764 - 1820 )

An ukiyo-e painter and printmaker, Shinsai Ryuryukyo lived in Edo. He studied with Sori Tawaraya before becoming the student of Hokusai. Shinsai received his name from Hokusai in 1800 and soon adopted the go, or artist name, “Ryuryukyo,” an old go used by his former teacher Sori. While Shinsai illustrated books and designed single-sheet prints throughout his career, he is best known for his surimono. These lavishly printed works were commissioned for special occasions, such as the New Year or poetry competitions. Adorned with gold, silver, lacquer, embossing, and mica, no expense was spared in the production of these exquisite works. Shinsai also experimented with one-point perspective and shading in his landscape prints.

Japanese Woodblock Prints (1800 - 1868)

By the 19th century, Japanese woodblock prints achieved extraordinary popularity. While the shogunate issued a battery of censorship reforms throughout the 1800s, artists ignored and evaded restrictions with images of indulgent beauties and vibrant kabuki actors. As constraints tightened in the 1840s, bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) became earthier in prints by Eizan and Eisen, while kabuki actors persevered in the work of Kunisada (aka Toyokuni III). During this period, ukiyo-e artists also added landscapes, warriors, ghosts and scenes of everyday life to their oeuvre. Artists such as Hokusai and Hiroshige indulged a national wanderlust through Meisho-e or “famous place pictures,” while Kuniyoshi championed musha-e, a genre of warrior and legendary pictures.


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  • 1800 - 1868 (Edo)


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Ceremony in the New Year


Ceremony in the New Year


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The Special New Year Calligraphy


The Special New Year Calligraphy