Published: April 2018
The Japanese coloured woodcut print is one of the few art genres from the Far East that is, thanks to Japonisme, familiar and popular in Europe. It is still collected and traded to this day. The Museum fur Ostasiatische Kunst in Cologne has trawled through its woodcut repository and viewed its collection of Japanese coloured woodblock prints and books as a whole for the first time. The result is a selection of the most unusual and valuable pieces, which are presented in a special large-scale exhibition and this catalogue.
Alongside the primitive, hand-coloured pieces from the end of the 17th century, there are coloured woodblock prints from the worlds of entertainment and the Kabuki theatre ( ukiyo-e ) of the 18th and 19th centuries; depictions of historical warriors and heroes; landscape prints from the famous series by Hokusai and Hiroshige; depictions of flowers, birds, insects and fish; precious privately commissioned calendar prints ( surimono ); quirky depictions of foreigners from Nagasaki; a comprehensive collection of prints from the Meiji period with illustrations of the Sino-Japanese War; and modern Shin-hanga (new woodcut prints) from the Taisho period onwards. A collection of important books complements this broad range of prints, including rare first editions of Hokusai's manga as well as instructional books for hobby painters, which give an introduction to the stylistic peculiarities of various painting schools. The diversity and the richness of this extensive collection reveals the beauty and importance of the Japanese woodblock print as never before.
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