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Meiji Era Ukiyo-e

The year 1868 was a turning point in the history of the Japan. Assimilation of western models influenced almost all spheres of life, and of course, art. During the first two decades of the Meiji period (1868-1912).
The changes that took place since the Meiji Restoration were swift. The world of ukiyo-e, the traditional Japanese woodblock printing mirrored these new trends.
In this first period, artists such as Hiroshige III used the traditional techniques of the ukiyo-e to mainly represent modernization and life in the big cities.
We see new architecture, load carts, carriages and street trolleys drawn by horses, aerostatic balloons, steamships, and Japanese people in western fashion clothes. A new trend within the ukiyo-e that began to integrate new elements of western aesthetics to Japanese printing along with the rise in nostalgia, when fresh and delicate women were painted by artists like Utamaro and Kiyonaga.
Chronicle of the Imperial Restoration (Kōkoku isshin kenbunshi)
221 Media in collectionpage 1 of 3

Two Courtesans

After Okumura Masanobu (Japanese, 1686–1764) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Girl with Plum Blossoms

Unidentified Artist Meiji period (1868–1912)

A Man Lighting His Pipe from that of A Young Woman who Sits Beside Him

After Okumura Masanobu (Japanese, 1686–1764) Meiji period (1868–1912)

'Insurance girl' (hoken musume), illustration from Bugei Kurabu (Literary Club)

Tomioka Eisen (Japanese, 1864–1905) Meiji period (1868–1912)

An Oiran Seated in a Parlor Applies the Fire Treatment to the Bared Back of Another Woman

After Okumura Masanobu (Japanese, 1686–1764) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Girl Carrying a Round Paper Fan (Uchiwa)

Unidentified Artist Meiji period (1868–1912)

Frontispiece illustration from the literary magazine Bungei kurabu

Takeuchi Keishū (Japanese, 1861–1943) Meiji period (1868–1912)

A Number of People in the Street Going about Various Affairs

After Okumura Masanobu (Japanese, 1686–1764) Meiji period (1868–1912)

A Man Attended by a Servant Carrying a Lantern

After Okumura Masanobu (Japanese, 1686–1764) Meiji period (1868–1912)

An Oiran Playing the Shamisen to a Young Man Kneeling by Her Side in Rapt Attention

After Okumura Masanobu (Japanese, 1686–1764) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Watching Fireflies on a Summer Night

Mishima Shōsō (Japanese, 1856–1928) Meiji period (1868–1912)

A Samurai who Hides His Features with His Hat

After Okumura Masanobu (Japanese, 1686–1764) Meiji period (1868–1912)

The Actor Nakamura Kichibei

After Okumura Masanobu (Japanese, 1686–1764) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Three Courtesans and a Kamuro Strolling in the Street

After Okumura Masanobu (Japanese, 1686–1764) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Silhouette Image of Kabuki Actor

Utagawa Kuniteru (Japanese, 1830–1874) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Kurahashi Densuke Kiyohara Takeyuki

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japanese, 1839–1892) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Use of Electric Light at the Time of Attack on Bingyang, Korea

Kobayashi Kiyochika (Japanese, 1847–1915) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Heian Period Courtier on a Moonlit Beach

Kobayashi Kiyochika (Japanese, 1847–1915) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Twenty-six Prints Constituting an Album

Yōshū (Hashimoto) Chikanobu (Japanese, 1838–1912) Meiji period (1868–1912)

The Strange Tale of the Castaways: A Western Kabuki (Hyōryō kidan seiyō kabuki) by the Playwright Kawatake Mokuami

Adachi (Shōsai) Ginkō (Japanese, active 1874–97) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Straw Basket for Fish (?) and Mokuge Flower

Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807–1891) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Portrait of Rikyū (?)

Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807–1891) Meiji period (1868–1912)

View of the Seafront at Yokohama and the British Trading House

Utagawa (Gountei) Sadahide (Japanese, 1807–1878/79) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Picture of a Prosperous English Trading Firm in Yokohama

Utagawa Yoshiiku (Japanese, 1833–1904) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Illustration of Foreign Residences and the Catholic Church in Yokohama (Yokohama shōkan tenshudō no zu)

Utagawa Hiroshige III (Japanese, 1843–1894) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Arrival of the Emperor at Tokyo after the Victory (Russo-Japanese War)

Utagawa Kunisada III (Japanese, 1848–1920) Meiji period (1868–1912)

The Tsukiji Hotel in Tokyo (Tokyo Tsukiji hoteru kan)

Utagawa Hiroshige III (Japanese, 1843–1894) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Silhouette Image of Kabuki Actor

Utagawa Yoshiiku (Japanese, 1833–1904) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Silhouette Image of Kabuki Actor

Utagawa Yoshiiku (Japanese, 1833–1904) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Silhouette Image of Kabuki Actor

Utagawa Yoshiiku (Japanese, 1833–1904) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Silhouette Image of Kabuki Actor

Utagawa Yoshiiku (Japanese, 1833–1904) Meiji period (1868–1912)

“The Flourishing of an English Trading Firm in Yokohama”

Utagawa Yoshiiku (Japanese, 1833–1904) Meiji period (1868–1912)

The Steel Bridge at Yokohama

Utagawa (Gountei) Sadahide (Japanese, 1807–1878/79) Meiji period (1868–1912)

"View in London," the Prosperity of Countries: London, England

Utagawa Yoshimori (Japanese, 1830–1884) Meiji period (1868–1912)

An American Sailing Ship off Arai

Utagawa Yoshimori (Japanese, 1830–1884) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Imported Silk Reeling Machine at Tsukiji in Tokyo

Casper Müller, a Swiss expert based in Yokohama, was employed by the prestigious and financially successful Ono Silk Filature Company to build a modern silk reeling factory in Tokyo. Yoshitora’s complex triptyc... more

Illustration of a Balloon Ascending (Fūsen shōyō no zu)

Utagawa Yoshitora (Japanese, active ca. 1850–80) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Cherry Tree

Kobayashi Kiyochika (Japanese, 1847–1915) Meiji period (1868–1912)

The Interior Works of an Armed Japanese Battleship

Unsen (Japanese, active ca. 1875) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Interior of a German Battleship

Unsen (Japanese, active ca. 1875) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Chronicle of the Imperial Restoration (Kōkoku isshin kenbunshi)

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japanese, 1839–1892) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Presentation of the Head of Saigo to the Prince Arisogawa

Yamazaki Toshinobu (Japanese, active ca. 1857–1886) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Presentation of the Head of Saigo to the Prince Arisogawa

Yamazaki Toshinobu (Japanese, active ca. 1857–1886) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Police Superintendant's Party: A Gift of Food and Drink

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japanese, 1839–1892) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Illustration of the Honored Commanders, Receiving the Emperor's Gift Cup (Kunkō no shō tenpai o tamau no zu)

Yōshū (Hashimoto) Chikanobu (Japanese, 1838–1912) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Civil and Military Officers

Looming in the central panel in Japanese dress is Saigo Takamori (1827–1877), the popular hero and influential samurai from Satsuma in Southern Kyushu. His daughter Ayako appears in the left panel. Immediatel... more

View of the Gift of the Emperor's Gift Cup

Yōshū (Hashimoto) Chikanobu (Japanese, 1838–1912) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Oyama Tsunayoshi's Cross Examination

Yōshū (Hashimoto) Chikanobu (Japanese, 1838–1912) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Fuji with Boat at Miho in Sunshu (Shizuoka)

Kobayashi Kiyochika (Japanese, 1847–1915) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Street Scene in the Outskirts of Edo on an Evening in Winter

Kobayashi Kiyochika (Japanese, 1847–1915) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Ichikawa Kodanji as Seppu Shinsuke, Ichikawa Sadanji as Kishino Toshiaki, Ichikawa Danjūrō as Saijō Takamori, Onoe Kikugorō as Kurata Shinpachirō, Nakamura Chūtarō as Shōtarō, Onoe Kikunosuke as Magoichi, and Ichikawa Kōsaku as Tokumaru in the play Okige no kumo harau asa gochi

This triptych illustrates a new type of play in the Meiji period, historical dramas (katsureki), which were promoted by Danjuro IX and which took their inspiration from recent events. Illustrated here is the Se... more

Collection of Desires, Wish for Foreign Travel (Mitate Tai zukushi-yōkō ga shitai)

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japanese, 1839–1892) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Mirror of Portraits of All Sovereigns in the World (Sejō kakkoku shaga teiō kagami)

Yōshū (Hashimoto) Chikanobu (Japanese, 1838–1912) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Splendor of the Procession of General Grant from America (Beikoku Guranto-shi go tsūkō no han'ei)

This print was commissioned to commemorate the former American president's visit to Tokyo (Edo was renamed Tokyo when the emperor made it his residence in 1868) and his attendance at a Kabuki performance. Like... more

Tokyo /Takanawa Steam Railway

Utagawa Kuniteru (Japanese, 1830–1874) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Twenty-Four Hours at Shinbashi/Yanagibashi: 12 Noon. (Shinyanagi nijūyo-ji, gozen jūni-ji)

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japanese, 1839–1892) Meiji period (1868–1912)

東京名所従 上野公園不忍池中嶋弁天之景

Utagawa Hiroshige III (Japanese, 1843–1894) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Ichikawa Sadanji as Dozaemon Denkichi in a Kabuki Play

Toyohara Kunichika (Japanese, 1835–1900) Meiji period (1868–1912)

View of the Descent from a Mountain by Many from Pilgrimage to Mt. Fuji (Fuji mōde shoshina gesan no zu)

Utagawa Hiroshige III (Japanese, 1843–1894) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Album of Thirty-Two Triptychs of Polychrome Woodblock Prints by Various Artists

Triptych 1: Kunichika Toyohara. Japanese, 1835–1900; Actors Onoe Kikugorō V as Mikawaya Giheiji, Ichikawa Danjūrō IX as Danshichi Kurobei, and Ichikawa Sadanji I as Issun Tokubei in The Summer Festival at Nani... more

Portrait of Fukuchi Gen'ichiro (1843–?)

Kobayashi Kiyochika (Japanese, 1847–1915) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Illustration of the Imperial Excursion to see the Charini's Circus (Charine daikyokuba goyūran no zu)

Yōshū (Hashimoto) Chikanobu (Japanese, 1838–1912) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Moon in the Flame from the Series One Hundred Images of the Moon (Tsuki hyaku sugata-enchūgetsu)

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japanese, 1839–1892) Meiji period (1868–1912)

A Dance Party: Enjoying Cherry Blossom Viewing at Ueno (Tōbukai Ueno ōka yūran no zu)

The scene is set high on a hill in Ueno Park overlooking Shinobazu Pond, in the famous Seiyōken, one of Japan’s first Western-style restaurants. In the foreground, a female violinist, the new career woman, prou... more

Children Playing in the Snow under Plum Trees in Bloom (Secchū baisō gunji yūgi zu)

The prince encourages his playmates to enjoy rough-and-tumble outdoor winter sports, but he stands aloof on his front porch, not quite one of the boys. Even his costume sets him apart; it is a miniature replica... more

A Mirror of Japan’s Nobility: The Emperor Meiji, His Wife, and Prince Haru (Fūsō kōki kagami)

This portrait of the imperial family was a form of propaganda that aimed to demonstrate the cultural authority of the newly established emperor as the head of state. Crown Prince Haru (1879–1925) would eventual... more

Nobility in the Evening Cool (Koki nōryō no zu)

Chikanobu became the most popular print artist of beauties during the Meiji period by depicting the Japanese nobility. Although the women in these polychrome prints wear Western hairstyles and dresses, their fa... more

Ladies Sewing (Kijo saihō no zu)

The sewing machine is the featured attraction in this print of upper-class women making and ironing men’s clothing. Sewing machines were a novelty in Japan in the 1870s, but by the mid-1880s, when wearing Weste... more

Court Ladies Sewing Western Clothing (Jokan yōfuku saihō no zu)

The empress, wearing a close-fitting, French-style mantelet, is accompanied by the prince, who sports his school uniform. At the center, her ladies-in-waiting demonstrate Western techniques of cutting and sewin... more

A Contest of Elegant Ladies among the Cherry Blossoms (Kaika kifujin kisoi)

This print shows the emperor, empress, prince, and ladies of the court enjoying the cherry blossoms at a Western-style building in the precincts of Ueno Park. The women wear elaborate French-style day dresses, ... more

Blossoming Cherry Trees in Ueno Park (Ueno kōen kaika zu)

From the late 1880s and 1890s, prints depicting the imperial couple on outings and attending other public events often had a conspicuous didactic function. They portrayed the emperor and empress as heads of a m... more

Teasing the Cat

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japanese, 1839–1892) Meiji period (1868–1912)

Autumn foliage at the New Imperial Palace

Unidentified Artist Meiji period (1868–1912)

A Garden Refreshed by the Passing Rain (Ukasentei no zu)

The empress and her ladies-in-waiting wear bonnets and dresses adapted from chromolithographs from European fashion magazines. In this and similar prints, if there is no caption, it is sometimes difficult to im... more