Masters of Japanese Prints
Exhibitions selected from Bristol Museum & Art Gallery’s collection of 500 Japanese woodblock prints - one of the top five regional collections in the UK.
Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) are two of Japan’s best-known woodblock print artists. In the 1830s they designed new series of prints depicting landscapes, using a horizontal format. These became hugely popular with their customers in Japan and later with western artists and collectors.
Japanese cities, especially Edo (today’s Tokyo), grew rapidly. Despite being lowest in the social order, many merchants and townspeople were comfortably off. They could afford fine fashion, trips to restaurants and the kabuki theatre as well as the services of courtesans (high-class prostitutes).
Japan’s four distinct seasons have been a source of inspiration to artists and poets for hundreds of years. In these woodblock prints from Bristol’s collection plants, animals and weather act as powerful symbols of seasonal change.
Thank you to everyone who donated to the Japanese Prints conservation appeal, without whom display of this work would not have been possible.
With particular thanks to Simon Baker, John and Susan Hart, Shelagh Cutner, Roger Feneley, The Davidson Charitable Trust, Sir James and Lady Virginia Tidmarsh, Katherine Croft, Dr and Mrs Hibberd, as well as the many Friends of Bristol Art Gallery members and Bristol Museums Development Trust donors who supported the appeal and exhibition.