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"A fairy moon and a lonely shore"


"A fairy moon and a lonely shore"



Print shows a man with a shoulder pole walking along a moonlite shore.

Stamp on verso: Matsumoto print, no. 39. The Matsumoto Do, Ltd. Tokyo, Japan.
Forms part of: Japanese prints and drawings (Library of Congress).

Woodblock printing in Japan (木版画, moku-hanga) is a technique best known for its use in the ukiyo-e artistic genre of single sheets, but it was also used for printing books in the same period. Woodblock printing had been used in China for centuries to print books, long before the advent of movable type, but was widely adopted in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). Woodblock printing appeared in Japan at the beginning of Edo period, when Tokugawa shogunate was ruled by th​e Japanese society. This technique originated from China, where it was used to print books for many centuries. Its original name is ‘moku-hanga’ and it has a wide usage in artistic genre of ‘ukiyo-e’. As opposed to western tradition, where artists used oil-based inks for woodcuts, moku-hanga technique uses water-based inks. That is why those prints had colors so vivid, as well as glazes, and transparency. This collection describes Japanese printmaking different schools and movements. The most notable of them were: - From 1700: Torii school - From 1700-1714: Kaigetsudō school - From 1720s: Katasukawa school, including the artists Shunsho and Shuntei - From 1725: Kawamata school including the artists Suzuki Harunobu and Koryusai - From 1786: Hokusai school, including the artists Hokusai, Hokuei and Gakutei - From 1794: Kitagawa school, including the artists Utamaro I, Kikumaro I and II - From 1842: Utagawa school, including the artists Kunisada and Hiroshige - From 1904: Sōsaku-hanga, "Creative Prints" movement - From 1915: Shin-hanga "New Prints" school, including Hasui Kawase and Hiroshi Yoshida Woodblock prints were provided by the Library of Congress and cover the period from 1600 to 1980.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), ukiyo-e (浮世絵/"floating world pictures"), woodblock cuts exploded in popularity across Japan. Throughout the Edo period, the moon remained a very popular subject for ukiyo-e art. Scenes of nightlife in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and Kyoto and prints depicting a gigantic moon (or 'ukiyo-e moon') floating over houses, temples, and Japanese landmarks were hugely popular. The Rimpa school was known for its half-moons, which adorned many of their paintings. Perhaps the most famous series with the ukiyo-e moon as a theme is Tsukioka Yoshitoshi's "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon" series. Most sets of the series published in 1885 underneath a full moon. "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon" was one of the last of the great ukiyo-e series to be published.







Library of Congress

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