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The Bitter End

Art of the Edo Period

Katsushika Hokusai (1760 - 1849)

36 Views of Mount Fuji

During the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1868), the shogun required that the daimyo (lords) and their samurai spend time in Edo (now Tokyo) during alternate years. As a result, a large recreation and entertainment industry grew in Edo, serving first the daimyo and their samurai, and later the growing populace of Edo itself. This industry was referred to as ukiyo --- the floating world.

Ukiyo-e, images of the "floating world" (everyday life), are the woodblock prints of old Edo. Ukiyo-e are the images of the floating world and of the pleasures therein. Typical subjects include pictures of bijin (beautiful women), kacho (birds and flowers), the kabuki theater, sumo, meisho (famous views), and scenes from history and myth as well as abuna-e and shunga (erotica).

Katsushika Hokusai (1760 - 1849) was a Japanese painter and wood engraver, born in Edo (now Tokyo). He is considered one of the outstanding figures of the Ukiyo-e school of printmaking. Hokusai entered the studio of his countryman Katsukawa Shunsho in 1775 and there learned the new, popular technique of woodcut printmaking. Between 1796 and 1802 he produced a vast number of book illustrations and color prints, perhaps as many as 30,000, that drew their inspiration from the traditions, legends, and lives of the Japanese people. Hokusai's most typical wood-block prints, silkscreens, and landscape paintings were done between 1830 and 1840.


Created: 22nd April 1996 - - - - Last Updated: 13th February 2010

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