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  • Thumbnail for The peak of Satta Pass near Yui station
    The peak of Satta Pass near Yui station by Utagawa Hiroshige

    From the first Tokaido series, Hoeido Tokaido edition. One of the most well known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. As the busiest highway in the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Tokaido offered numerous chances to experience a variety of social classes and day-to-day activities. Numerous images of this highway were created during the Edo period, some in singular views and others in series, the most famous of which are Hiroshige’s numerous editions. The images depicted the commercial activity along the road and famous views seen on the journey. Hiroshige, in particular, also chose many of the views based on varying times of year and the weather conditions that offered an ever-changing impression of the landscape. Greatly influenced by his teacher Utagawa Toyoharu, Hiroshige often employed perspective views rather than the more traditional stacked and flattened views of the landscape found in the Kano school of painting. This slightly more western view helps to explain his popularity among 19th century artists in Europe. In this image, near station number sixteen, Hiroshige shows travelers about to get a majestic view of Mt. Fuji. Long a traditional subject matter in Kano style painting, views of Mt. Fuji were charged with national pride and an important sense of place to the Japanese. The artist combines this ancient tradition with a far more popular and temporal sense of place.

  • Thumbnail for Scene at the precincts of Shinmei Shrine, Shiba
    Scene at the precincts of Shinmei Shrine, Shiba by Utagawa Hiroshige

    From the Famous Places of Edo series and one of the most well-known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. This image was originally a part of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s collection of Japanese woodblock prints. It along with 36 others came to the Wriston from a benefactor who received them from Wright in lieu of a payment for printing services. Many of the prints have Wright’s handwritten notations in the margins. Though many of the Wright works in our collection are of lesser quality, the images serve as an example of the interest in Asian art that so informed Wright’s architecture. Though probably most known for his numerous editions of images from the Tokaido, Hiroshige also produced a number of prints and editions of other well-known landscape sites. Among them were Famous Places of the Eastern Capital, Famous Places in the Sixty-Odd Provinces, and Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji, among others. These series were a modern interpretation of a much earlier tradition in which Chinese artists and poets would paint and write about important locales. As in his Tokaido prints, however Hiroshige imbued these modern views with a sense of a specific contemporary time and place often employing a more western perspective and showing modern day viewers inhabiting the scene.

  • Thumbnail for A mother seated and reading a letter while her daughter combs her hair
    A mother seated and reading a letter while her daughter combs her hair by Utamaro Kitagawa

    The dominant ukiyo-e artist of the late 18th century, Utamaro is as famous for his legendary life as for his unsurpassed images of courtesans and famous beauties of his day. Bijin-ga (images of beauties) might be of actual contemporary and historic women or of an idealized type of beauty specific to a time and region. Courtesans in particular were usually depicted in the latest and most elaborate fashions of the day. After restrictive censorship laws were passed in the 1840s, many artists turned to generalized pictures of the latest fashions and more domestic settings for their images of beauties. Even in domestic settings many of Utamaro’s prints have a strong element of the erotic.

  • Thumbnail for Ferry boats on the Tenryu River at Mitsuke Station
    Ferry boats on the Tenryu River at Mitsuke Station by Utagawa Hiroshige

    From the Tsutakichi series. One of the most well-known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. This image was originally a part of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s collection of Japanese woodblock prints. It along with 36 others came to the Wriston from a benefactor who received them from Wright in lieu of a payment for printing services. Many of the prints have Wright’s handwritten notations in the margins. Though many of the Wright works in our collection are of lesser quality, the images serve as an example of the interest in Asian art that so informed Wright’s architecture. As the busiest highway in the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Tokaido offered numerous chances to experience a variety of social classes and day-to-day activities. Numerous images of this highway were created during the Edo period, some in singular views and others in series, the most famous of which are Hiroshige’s numerous editions. The images depicted the commercial activity along the road and famous views seen on the journey. Hiroshige, in particular, also chose many of the views based on varying times of year and the weather conditions that offered an ever-changing impression of the landscape. Greatly influenced by his teacher Utagawa Toyoharu, Hiroshige often employed perspective views rather than the more traditional stacked and flattened views of the landscape found in the Kano school of painting. This slightly more western view helps to explain his popularity among 19th century artists in Europe.This image represents station number twenty-nine. Though often fordable by foot, during heavy rains the Tenryu river was deep and swift and many boatmen plied their trade ferrying travelers across the river.

  • Thumbnail for The General Amakasu Omi-no-kami Kagotoki riding a brown horse
    The General Amakasu Omi-no-kami Kagotoki riding a brown horse by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

    The son of a silk dyer, Utagawa Kuniyoshi was apprenticed to the printmaker Utagawa Toyokuni I. whose other pupils included Toyoshige and Kunisada. Unlike his master, who specialized in actor portraits, Kuniyoshi excelled in depicting historical scenes and events along with celebrated warriors. Like many of his contemporaries, the artist experimented widely, producing prints of everything from landscapes to erotica. Kuniyoshi’s first published work was a set of book illustrations released in 1814, although his name remained obscure for several years until his publication of a print series depicting 75 heroes from Japanese lore and legend. When prints of actors and beautiful women (bijin-ga) were banned by the Japanese government in 1842, the Japanese middle class became enthusiastic supporters of Kuniyoshi’s seemingly inoffensive historical prints. In 1843, the artist released a satirical triptych print criticizing the Shogun, launching an official investigation that resulted in the destruction of Kuniyoshi’s woodblocks and unsold prints, as well as an official censure. The print, however, remained popular with the middle class.

  • Thumbnail for Two women with infant
    Two women with infant by Utamaro Kitagawa

    The dominant ukiyo-e artist of the late 18th century, Utamaro is as famous for his legendary life as for his unsurpassed images of courtesans and famous beauties of his day. Bijin-ga (images of beauties) might be of actual contemporary and historic women or of an idealized type of beauty specific to a time and region. Courtesans in particular were usually depicted in the latest and most elaborate fashions of the day. After an increasing number of censorship laws were passed to limit the production of prints of famous courtesans, thought to corrupt the morals of the citizens of Japan, many artists turned to domestic images of mothers and daughters or women with servants and generalized pictures of the latest fashions in order to satisfy the demand for bijin-ga and skirt the laws.

  • Thumbnail for Kana-dehon Chushingura Act IV: Oboshi Yuranosuke display's Hangan's sword
    Kana-dehon Chushingura Act IV: Oboshi Yuranosuke display's Hangan's sword by Eisen Keisai

    From the Kanadehon Chushingura (Model of the Kana Syllabury: the Forty-seven Loyal Retainers) series. Keisei Eisen was born in Edo, the son of a calligraphy artist. He was apprenticed to Kikugawa Eizan and studied traditional painting before becoming a printmaker. Throughout his career, Eisen’s work was productive and varied. Book illustrations and prints were his first commissioned works. Early on, he achieved lasting fame for his bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women), and both contributed to and edited the Ukiyo-e ruiko (History of Prints of the Floating World) one of the few surviving sources of information-rich material on printmaking art and artists in Japan. At times, he struck partnerships with other artists of his age, such as his collaboration with Hiroshige, which resulted in a series of landscape prints entitled The Sixty-nine Stations on the Kiso Highway. Eisen also released many surimono (privately issued prints), shunga (erotic prints), and some landscape pieces. In addition to his career as a printmaker, Eisen pursued other sources of income. A self-described hard-drinker who humbly titled his version of Japanese print history Mumeio zhuihitsu (Essays by a Nameless Old Man), Eisen was also the manager and proprietor of a brothel for a time. Today, however he is most famous for his portrayals of the beauties of old Japan. Kana-dehon Chushingura (Model of the Kana Syllabury: the Forty-seven Loyal Retainers) was a popular and frequently performed Kabuki play in the late 18th and early 19th century in Edo. Based on actual historical events from 1701 – 1703, the play tells of forty-seven ronin (samurai without a lord) who seek revenge for the unjust death of their leader Enya-Hangan. Act IV: Enya-hangan commits hara-kiri, while his loyal retainer Yuranosuke vows revenge on Moronao

  • Thumbnail for Mirrors of actors in fanciful transformations
    Mirrors of actors in fanciful transformations by Utagawa Toyokuni I

    From theYakusha Mitate Kagami (Mirrors of Actors in Fanciful Transformations) series. A student of Toyoharu, Toyokuni became the head of the Utagawa school after his master’s death. At eighteen the artist published his first works, a series of illustrations of Japanese folk tales and thereafter he devoted much of his early career to the creation of bijin-ga. He achieved the greatest renown, however, for actor prints in which he was one of the first to show the full bodies and the costumes of his subjects. Like his contemporary Kitagawa Utamaro, Toyokuni was punished for the content of some of his prints, at one point being sentenced to fifty days in hand-shackles for his series Ehon Taiheki (The Taihei Romance Illustrated). By the 1820s Toyokuni’s name had become synonymous with fine prints of actors and their roles. Often actors would be depicted in roles which they had never performed as artists sought to create an imaginative scenario. This mitate was a playful connection which also allowed artists to show numerous actors in a single image. This game of playful doubling and imagination was also frequently employed in a variety of bijin-ga.

  • Thumbnail for Silla Bronze Mirror
    Silla Bronze Mirror

    Bronze mirrors initially appeared in Korea around the middle of the first millennium B.C. The dating of Korean mirrors is problematic for the lack of sources. This mirror is attributed the Silla period; a period of major creative force in the arts of Korea history; a period when imitations of Chinese mirrors and Korean-made pieces were simultaneously made. Artistic creativity of this period marks a departure from the rigid comparmentalized designs of early mirrors to a free refreshing design, suggesting that Silla mirrors were produced in the more peaceful years of the Koryo. Furthermore, in the past, mirrors were often copied, imported, as in the case of Japanese mirrors. Early mirrors are approximately 8-11 cm with simple geometric decorative patterns, slightly smaller than this one. To determine the authenticity, the provenance, and the exact period of this mirror would need extensive scientific analysis of the metal alloy content (copper, tin, or lead). The content of this report could only attempt to analyze the motifs of the period, which appear to be Korean in origin. Silla royal and aristocrat's tombs preserve objects of splendor with extraordinary beauty and sophisticated craftsmanship. Their quality and design reflect the Silla elite's refined tastes and their impetus in expressing social and political status. The shape of this mirror has a scalloped edge with pointed lobes in imitation of floral forms, symbolical of auspiciousness and prosperity, and stylized clouds that embellish the lobed petals. One side is flat and not well polished with sign of corrosion; it serves as a reflective surface. The other has an eyelet in in the center for a tassel to hold or hang the mirror. The visible influence of Chinese mirrors reflects on the narrative theme of this mirror with raised decorations of two figures nestled in a beautiful landscape backdropwith rocks and verdure: a male figure sitting under a tree, probably a cypress tree with typical clumps of leaves, playing a musical instrument on his lap while a lady dances to the rhythm of his music. Such a euphonious scene! There are no facial features; yet, the clothing style and headdress help identify the genderof these figures. The overall design is symmetrical. The detailed expression reveals a variation of fine technique refinement characteristically of the Silla period. Although unique to Korea, the motifs and subjects of everyday associations suggest an artistic interchange between China and Korea at that period. Similar mirrors with anrrative themes were found in both China and Korea.

  • Thumbnail for The Courtesan Miyakoji of Tamaya Brothel and her Attendants in Edo-cho Itchome Street
    The Courtesan Miyakoji of Tamaya Brothel and her Attendants in Edo-cho Itchome Street by Kikugawa Eizan

    From the Seiro Meikun Zoroi (A Set of Famous Courtesans from Green Houses) series. Though he studied with his father, many consider Kikugawa Eizan to be the best of the late followers of Utamaro. Known for his highly elegant (furyu) bijin-ga the artist continued a stylish elegance that many of his contemporaries eschewed for a more earthy realism. Curiously, he all but ceased ukiyo-e printmaking in the 1820s, a full forty years before his death. Bijin-ga (images of beauties) might be of actual contemporary and historic women or of an idealized type of beauty specific to a time and region. Courtesans in particular were usually depicted in the latest and most elaborate fashions of the day. After an increasing number of censorship laws were passed to limit the production of prints of famous courtesans, thought to corrupt the morals of the citizens of Japan, many artists turned to domestic images of mothers and daughters or women with servants and generalized pictures of the latest fashions in order to satisfy the demand for bijin-ga and skirt the laws.

  • Thumbnail for Landscapes and Figures, mountain scene with house
    Landscapes and Figures, mountain scene with house by Ren Xun

    Chinese painting of a mountain scene that is part of a set of four related paintings. Ren Xun was the younger brother of Ren Xiong (1820-1864) and his family members were successful commercial painters in Shanghai and nearby regions and skilled in many subjects, including portraiture. Ren Xun followed the style of one of the eccentric painters, Chen Hongshu (1598-1652) in his figure paintings and was also skilled in bird-and-flower subjects. Both brothers were active in Shanghai and their styles are labeled “Shanghai School†for their colorful and decorative features and popular subjects.

  • Thumbnail for Ken Tenju hanging scroll, full view
    Ken Tenju hanging scroll, full view by Tenju, Ken

    Japanese Edo period hanging scroll with vertically-oriented painting and a brown brocade mounting. The image area is 28 cm x 187 cm and depicts the landscape of a Nanga school with the scene of a mountain and hut to the left, a river to the right, a bridge in the foreground, and an inscription to the upper right.

  • Thumbnail for Portrait, upper view
    Portrait, upper view by Unknown

    19th century portrait depicting a subject seated in a garden by a stream, chrysanthemum in a vase and a pine tree. The chrysanthemum in the vase symbolizes autumn while the pine tree represents longevity. The image area is 67cm x 130.5 cm and was made using Chinese ink and colors on paper in a silk mounting. The subject and artistic style are reminiscent of the famous artist, Ren Xiong (1820-1864). Ren Xiong and his family members were successful commercial painters in Shanghai and nearby regions and skilled in many subjects, including portraiture.

  • Thumbnail for Autumn Leaves and Chrysanthemums, full view
    Autumn Leaves and Chrysanthemums, full view by Jin Dui

    Horizontal Chinese painting; ink and colors on paper; 34.2 cm x 27.3 cm; white chrysanthemums, symbol of 9th month, autumn and fruit blossoms; calligraphy and one seal by artist.

  • Thumbnail for Silk embroider depicting Ouyang Hai pushing an artillery-laden horse off the tracks before an oncoming train
    Silk embroider depicting Ouyang Hai pushing an artillery-laden horse off the tracks before an oncoming train by Yang Shengrong

    Silk embroidery is today supported by the Chinese government. As in the past, it is not unusual for an existing painting to be copied in embroidery. In this instance, the painting represents one of the mythical heroes of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), Ouyang Hai. He reputedly shoved a frightened horse laden with artillery off the tracks in front of an oncoming train. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1975), PLA heroes, actual or fictitious, became part of the government propaganda machine and were to serve as role models for the people. To advertise their heroic deeds, they were commemorated in all artistic media: paintings, prints, sculptures. This particular depiction of Ouyang Hai was originally created as a painting in 1964 by Yang Shengrong.

  • Thumbnail for After Hiroshige, front view stage 11
    After Hiroshige, front view stage 11 by unknown

    One of nineteen prints which illustrate the process of making a multi-block multicolor woodblock print. The print reproduced is the view of Asakusa Kinryuzan (Asakusa Kannon Temple) from Ando Hiroshige’s Toto yukimi hakkei (Eight Views of Snow in the Eastern Capital).

  • Thumbnail for Popular woodblock prints: pair of auspicious boys (2)
    Popular woodblock prints: pair of auspicious boys (2)

    Colored woodblock prints of popular images are associated with popular religious beliefs and ceremonies mostly observed at Chinese lunar New Year. Prints depicting boys wheeling in riches by the wheelbarrow load expressed wishes for accumulated wealth in the family and were appropriate decorations for interior doors.

  • Thumbnail for Silk embroider depicting Ouyang Hai pushing an artillery-laden horse off the tracks before an oncoming train (detail horse's face)
    Silk embroider depicting Ouyang Hai pushing an artillery-laden horse off the tracks before an oncoming train (detail horse's face) by Yang Shengrong

    Silk embroidery is today supported by the Chinese government. As in the past, it is not unusual for an existing painting to be copied in embroidery. In this instance, the painting represents one of the mythical heroes of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), Ouyang Hai. He reputedly shoved a frightened horse laden with artillery off the tracks in front of an oncoming train. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1975), PLA heroes, actual or fictitious, became part of the government propaganda machine and were to serve as role models for the people. To advertise their heroic deeds, they were commemorated in all artistic media: paintings, prints, sculptures. This particular depiction of Ouyang Hai was originally created as a painting in 1964 by Yang Shengrong.

  • Thumbnail for Silk embroider depicting Ouyang Hai pushing an artillery-laden horse off the tracks before an oncoming train (detail horse)
    Silk embroider depicting Ouyang Hai pushing an artillery-laden horse off the tracks before an oncoming train (detail horse) by Yang Shengrong

    Silk embroidery is today supported by the Chinese government. As in the past, it is not unusual for an existing painting to be copied in embroidery. In this instance, the painting represents one of the mythical heroes of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), Ouyang Hai. He reputedly shoved a frightened horse laden with artillery off the tracks in front of an oncoming train. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1975), PLA heroes, actual or fictitious, became part of the government propaganda machine and were to serve as role models for the people. To advertise their heroic deeds, they were commemorated in all artistic media: paintings, prints, sculptures. This particular depiction of Ouyang Hai was originally created as a painting in 1964 by Yang Shengrong.

  • Thumbnail for Ken Tenju hanging scroll, corner view
    Ken Tenju hanging scroll, corner view by Tenju, Ken

    Japanese Edo period hanging scroll with vertically-oriented painting and a brown brocade mounting. The image area is 28 cm x 187 cm and depicts the landscape of a Nanga school with the scene of a mountain and hut to the left, a river to the right, a bridge in the foreground, and an inscription to the upper right.

  • Thumbnail for After Hiroshige, front view stage 14
    After Hiroshige, front view stage 14 by unknown

    One of nineteen prints which illustrate the process of making a multi-block multicolor woodblock print.The print reproduced is the view of Asakusa Kinryuzan (Asakusa Kannon Temple) from Ando Hiroshige’s Toto yukimi hakkei (Eight Views of Snow in the Eastern Capital).

  • Thumbnail for After Hiroshige, front view stage 9
    After Hiroshige, front view stage 9 by unknown

    One of nineteen prints which illustrate the process of making a multi-block multicolor woodblock print.The print reproduced is the view of Asakusa Kinryuzan (Asakusa Kannon Temple) from Ando Hiroshige’s Toto yukimi hakkei (Eight Views of Snow in the Eastern Capital).

  • Thumbnail for Imperial bronze bell
    Imperial bronze bell

    This bell is dated by the inscription in a cartouche as having been made in the 50th year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi, i.e. 1711. The bell was evidently meant to be part of a larger set of bells, thus it represents a continuation of the ancient practice of producing sets of bells that were suspended from a rack. Each bell was specifically manufactured to produce a particular note in the Chinese musical scale. The inscription on the opposite side of the bell has three characters indicating which musical note the bell produces when struck. In addition, this bell is an excellent example of superior quality, imperial level bronze casting.

  • Thumbnail for Shadow puppet (set of 3)
    Shadow puppet (set of 3)

    These shadow puppets represent one of the traditional Chinese crafts. They also represent one of the popular-level puppet theater traditions in China (the others being hand puppets and string puppets). The shadow puppets are cut and carved out of thin sections of hide, which is then given coatings of color. These examples are in pristine condition and retain their brilliant colors. One of the shadow puppets wears a Manchu headdress and Manchu platform shoes. The treatment of the eye sockets suggests that these puppets were made in the Beijing area

  • Thumbnail for Woman’s skirt
    Woman’s skirt

    In all respects (cut, design, embroidered designs), these two garments are typical of the late 19th – early 20th century feminine fashions. The skirt is an example of one way such garments were fastened around the waist – by placing fabric loops over cloth buttons. A lithographed print by the late 19th century Shanghai artist Wu Youru depicts two women wearing such garments posing in a photographer’s studio.