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Asian Library, University of British Columbia. Auckland, N. Fondo Marega. Brigham Young University. Asian and African Studies. Cleveland Museum of Art. Ingalls Library. Columbia University. Starr East Asian Library.
Cornell University. Wason Collection. Denver Museum of Art. Elvehjem Museum of Art. Emma Shearer Wood Library of Ornithology. Sackler Gallery Smithsonian Institution. Gallagher Law Library. George Beans Collection. Great Britain. Harvard University. Harvard-Yenching Library. Japanisch-Deutsches Zentrum Berlin, Germany. Japanisch-Deutsches Zentrum Berlin. Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven Oost-Aziatische Bibliotheek. KU Leuven Leidse Universiteit. East Asian Library. Leland Stanford Junior University.
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McGill University. Blacker-Wood Collection of Zoology and Ornithology. East Asian Collection. Monash University. Asian Studies Research Collection. National Library of Medicine U. History of Medicine Division. New York Public Library. Humanities and Social Sciences Library. Print Collection.
Spencer Collection. Newark Museum Association. Newark Museum. Bibliotek for humaniora og samfunnsvitenskap. Bodleian Japanese Library. Princeton University. East Asian Library and the Gest Collection. Royal Ontario Museum. Mu Far Eastern Library. Smithsonian Institution. Sackler Gallery. Spencer Museum of Art. Simon Museum Pasadena, Calif.
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz. United States. Library of Congress. National Library of Medicine. Universitetet i Oslo. Universitetsbiblioteket i Oslo. University Library, Cambridge. University of British Columbia. University of California, Berkeley. East Asiatic Library. University of Cambridge. University of East Anglia. Sometimes this difference was discussed openly, rather than being couched in qualified comparisons. For example, when Goncourt looked at Japanese sword-guards fig. What is the relationship between an artwork and its creator?
Edmond was not alone in broadening this idea from the particular of the individual to the broader realm of national character. In this we can see Goncourt operating within the climate of positivism, which encouraged the interpretation of art in nationalistic terms. This idea, present already in the thinking of Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau, developed in the nineteenth-century work of men such as Arthur Gobineau, a propagandist for the inequality of the races, Ernest Renan, a linguist and archaeologist concerned with race and era, and Hippolyte Taine, who laid out the theoretical principles of this approach to art.
The brothers knew Taine personally, first mentioning him in their Journal in January They had ample opportunity to discuss art and aesthetics with him and reported frequently on the intellectual debates that took place at the restaurant. The Goncourts had clearly absorbed the fundamental notion that works of art could reveal national character.
At times, the two could be made to converge, and at others they could be made to diverge. Beneath them, I again sense his anti-academicism. His comments on the fine detail in the metalwork of sword-guards and the loving tenderness with which Japanese artists depicted even the most humble animals praised qualities opposed to the monumental and the noble advocated by the academy. The differences Edmond identified between Europe and Japan participated therefore in his broader goal of delegitimizing academic values. We are left with an unstable picture of Japanese art, both like and unlike French art.
What remained constant was the denigration of academic values and the tendency to extrapolate national character from the evidence of artworks. Comparison, we might say, cannot exist without contrast, and studying the dialectical movement between the two permits the rhetorical nature of such exercises to rise to the surface. In his writings, Goncourt presented an unstable vision of Japanese art in support of aesthetic positions in debates taking place in France.
The study of Japanese people and art provided him with arguments in his critique of a French system that was moving increasingly away from the values of aristocratic refinement and eroticized elegance that he cherished in the eighteenth century. His articulations of similarity and difference—and indeed, the co-existence of both analogies and contrasts in much Japoniste discourse—should alert us to the constructed nature of each, and cause us to question the rhetorical or ideological goals behind their implementation.
My research was generously supported by a faculty development grant of the University of Rhode Island Foundation. Gabriel P. Weisberg and Yvonne M. Weisberg provided a priceless and time-saving study on the history of publications about Japan and Japanese art: Japonisme: An Annotated Bibliography New York: Garland, Alterity has become a dominant theme of interdisciplinary cultural studies for the past thirty years, with psychoanalytic, linguistic, sociological, philosophical, literary, post-colonial and art historical iterations.
For a summary of these inquiries and pertinent bibliography, see Pierre Ouellet, Quel autre? Surprisingly, little of this body of thought has been used to study the discourses of Japonisme. I am currently preparing another article on the relationship between Edmond de Goncourt and Hayashi Tadamasa which explores how post-colonial theory can help us understand the cross-cultural exchanges experienced by these two men. The literature on the Goncourt brothers is vast and growing as the Goncourts undergo a revival, especially in France. All of these scholars stress the cross-cultural interaction between Japan and France.
Critical accounts of Japonisme will also need to consider that the phenomenon was not limited to fine and decorative arts, but had economic, horticultural, spiritual, philosophical, gastronomical, and military implications as well. Nor was it the sole domain of the French: Japonisme in its myriad forms can be found to varying degrees in many European countries and the United States both before and after the arrival of Commodore Perry. Reservations were expressed as early as ; see Weisberg and Weisberg, Japonisme: An Annotated Bibliography , 70—71 and — Paris: Charpentier, All references will be to these editions unless otherwise noted.
Both authors gave broad and detailed overviews of the history of Japanese art across many centuries.
The Mountain That Needs No Interpreter: Mt. Fuji and the Foreign
In this, the monographs on Utamaro and Hokusai reproduced an epistemological move he and his brother Jules had made for eighteenth-century French artists in the s, when many art history books focused on national schools. Hayashi dont la vente aura lieu du lundi 2 juin au vendredi 6 juin Paris: Chez S. Bing, This term was first used by Philippe Burty, who began signing letters and writing inscriptions in books with this word after his name during the Franco-Prussian War, that is, sometime in — The Asian objects were sold over six days, from March 8—13, , and the auction was accompanied by a catalogue: Collection des Goncourt.
Goncourt may not have been able to afford the trip, in addition to whatever other reasons kept him from going, but he later declared that it was not necessary to travel to Japan to speak intelligently about its art and culture. See Journal April 4, Koyama-Richard, 46— See February 17, ; May 3, ; September 22, ; —3 Oct 31, ; November 6, , an especially wonderful entry where Edmond recounts eating sushi for the first time ; and November 28, See Akiyoshi Watanabe, ed.
When referring to the Goncourt brothers and Japonisme , one must contend with the untimely death of Jules de Goncourt in , which interrupted the work they had begun together in the s and 60s. Only rarely will I make a reference to something the brothers said together about Japanese art in the s, in which case I will again use the plural. I hope to make a trip to Leiden in June to work in their archives. Goncourt made many more analogies between Japanese art and French eighteenth-century art.
This European view was quickly translated into Japanese writing. Especially in the s, Torii Kiyonaga —  of the Torii school  depicted traditional ukiyo-e subjects like beauties and urban scenes, which he printed on large sheets of paper, often as multiprint horizontal diptychs or triptychs.
His works dispensed with the poetic dreamscapes made by Harunobu, opting instead for realistic depictions of idealized female forms dressed in the latest fashions and posed in scenic locations. A law went into effect in requiring prints to bear a censor's seal of approval to be sold. Censorship increased in strictness over the following decades, and violators could receive harsh punishments. From even preliminary drafts required approval. Utamaro c. Utamaro's individuated beauties were in sharp contrast to the stereotyped, idealized images that had been the norm. Appearing suddenly in and disappearing just as suddenly ten months later, the prints of the enigmatic Sharaku are amongst ukiyo-e's best known.
Sharaku produced striking portraits of kabuki actors, introducing a greater level of realism into his prints that emphasized the differences between the actor and the portrayed character. A consistent high level of quality marks ukiyo-e of the late 18th-century, but the works of Utamaro and Sharaku often overshadow those other masters of the era. He brought a refined sense to his portraits of graceful, slender courtesans, and left behind a number of noted students.
The Utagawa school came to dominate ukiyo-e output in the late Edo period. Edo was the primary centre of ukiyo-e production throughout the Edo period. Another major centre developed in the Kamigata region of areas in and around Kyoto and Osaka. In contrast to the range of subjects in the Edo prints, those of Kamigata tended to be portraits of kabuki actors. The style of the Kamigata prints was little distinguished from those of Edo until the late 18th century, partly because artists often moved back and forth between the two areas.
Cooling on Riverside Kiyonaga , c. Three Beauties of the Present Day Utamaro , c. Ichikawa Ebizo as Takemura Sadanoshin Sharaku , Onoe Eisaburo I Toyokuni , c. As a result, many ukiyo-e artists designed travel scenes and pictures of nature, especially birds and flowers. It was not until late in the Edo period that landscape came into its own as a genre, especially via the works of Hokusai and Hiroshige.
The landscape genre has come to dominate Western perceptions of ukiyo-e, though ukiyo-e had a long history preceding these late-era masters.
Book Covers with Hokusai's Great Wave
The self-proclaimed "mad painter" Hokusai — enjoyed a long, varied career. His work is marked by a lack of the sentimentality common to ukiyo-e, and a focus on formalism influenced by Western art. Though not often given the attention of their better-known forebears, the Utagawa school produced a few masters in this declining period. The prolific Kunisada — had few rivals in the tradition of making portrait prints of courtesans and actors.
Hiroshige — is considered Hokusai's greatest rival in stature. From the Suikoden series Kuniyoshi , Dawn at Futami-ga-ura Kunisada , c. Following the deaths of Hokusai and Hiroshige  and the Meiji Restoration of , ukiyo-e suffered a sharp decline in quantity and quality. Practitioners of pure ukiyo-e became more rare, and tastes turned away from a genre seen as a remnant of an obsolescent era. Synthetic pigments imported from Germany began to replace traditional organic ones in the midth century.
Many prints from this era made extensive use of a bright red, and were called aka-e "red pictures". His One Hundred Aspects of the Moon — depicts a variety of fantastic and mundane themes with a moon motif. Mirror of the Japanese Nobility Chikanobu , Kiyochika , Aside from Dutch traders, who had had trading relations dating to the beginning of the Edo period,  Westerners paid little notice to Japanese art before the midth century, and when they did they rarely distinguished it from other art from the East. The export of ukiyo-e thereafter slowly grew, and at the beginning of the 19th century Dutch merchant-trader Isaac Titsingh 's collection drew the attention of connoisseurs of art in Paris.
The arrival in Edo of American Commodore Matthew Perry in led to the Convention of Kanagawa in , which opened Japan to the outside world after over two centuries of seclusion. Ukiyo-e prints were amongst the items he brought back to the United States. Early Europeans promoters and scholars of ukiyo-e and Japanese art included writer Edmond de Goncourt and art critic Philippe Burty ,  who coined the term " Japonism ". American Ernest Fenollosa was the earliest Western devotee of Japanese culture, and did much to promote Japanese art—Hokusai's works featured prominently at his inaugural exhibition as first curator of Japanese art Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and in Tokyo in he curated the first ukiyo-e exhibition in Japan.
Tadamasa Hayashi was a prominent Paris-based dealer of respected tastes whose Tokyo office was responsible for evaluating and exporting large quantities of ukiyo-e prints to the West in such quantities that Japanese critics later accused him of siphoning Japan of its national treasure. Japanese art, and particularly ukiyo-e prints, came to influence Western art from the time of the early Impressionists. Woman Bathing Cassatt , c. The travel sketchbook became a popular genre beginning about , as the Meiji government promoted travel within Japan to have citizens better know their country.
Bartlett — In , he produced Fisherman using woodblock printing, a technique until then frowned upon by the Japanese art establishment as old-fashioned and for its association with commercial mass production. Screen printing , etching , mezzotint , mixed media , and other Western methods have joined traditional woodcutting amongst printmakers' techniques. Taj Mahal , Charles W. Bartlett , Lyric No.
Early ukiyo-e artists brought with them a sophisticated knowledge of and training in the composition principles of classical Chinese painting ; gradually these artists shed the overt Chinese influence to develop a native Japanese idiom. The early ukiyo-e artists have been called "Primitives" in the sense that the print medium was a new challenge to which they adapted these centuries-old techniques—their image designs are not considered "primitive". A defining feature of most ukiyo-e prints is a well-defined, bold, flat line.
Attention was drawn to vertical and horizontal relationships, as well as details such as lines, shapes, and patterns such as those on clothing. Elements of images were often cropped , giving the composition a spontaneous feel. The colourful, ostentatious, and complex patterns, concern with changing fashions, and tense, dynamic poses and compositions in ukiyo-e are in striking contrast with many concepts in traditional Japanese aesthetics.
Prominent amongst these, wabi-sabi favours simplicity, asymmetry, and imperfection, with evidence of the passage of time;  and shibui values subtlety, humility, and restraint.
Irises (Getty Museum)
Ukiyo-e displays an unusual approach to graphical perspective, one that can appear underdeveloped when compared to European paintings of the same period. Western-style geometrical perspective was known in Japan—practised most prominently by the Akita ranga painters of the s—as were Chinese methods to create a sense of depth using a homogeny of parallel lines.
The techniques sometimes appeared together in ukiyo-e works, geometrical perspective providing an illusion of depth in the background and the more expressive Chinese perspective in the fore. This remained the case even when realistic perspective techniques were applied to other sections of the composition. Typical subjects were female beauties "' bijin-ga '" , kabuki actors "' yakusha-e '" , and landscapes. The women depicted were most often courtesans and geisha at leisure, and promoted the entertainments to be found in the pleasure districts.
Less attention was given to accuracy of the women's physical features, which followed the day's pictorial fashions—the faces stereotyped, the bodies tall and lanky in one generation and petite in another. Ukiyo-e prints grew out of book illustration—many of Moronobu's earliest single-page prints were originally pages from books he had illustrated. In the late period, Hokusai produced the three-volume One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji and the fifteen-volume Hokusai Manga , the latter a compendium of over sketches of a wide variety of realistic and fantastic subjects. Traditional Japanese religions do not consider sex or pornography a moral corruption in the Judaeo-Christian sense,  and until the changing morals of the Meiji era led to its suppression, shunga erotic prints were a major genre.
Scenes from nature have been an important part of Asian art throughout history. Artists have closely studied the correct forms and anatomy of plants and animals, even though depictions of human anatomy remained more fanciful until modern times. The 11th-century Tale of Genji  and the 13th-century Tale of the Heike  have been sources of artistic inspiration throughout Japanese history,  including in ukiyo-e.
From the 17th to 19th centuries Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world. Trade, primarily with the Dutch and Chinese, was restricted to the island of Dejima near Nagasaki. Outlandish pictures called Nagasaki-e were sold to tourists of the foreigners and their wares. Yakusha-e print of two kabuki actors Sharaku , Sumo wrestlers in preparation, e-hon page from Hokusai Manga Hokusai , early 19th century. From erotic shunga sex manual Treasures Hidden in our Pockets Eisen , c. English Couple Yokohama-e by Utagawa Yoshitora , Ukiyo-e artists often made both prints and paintings; some specialized in one or the other.
Yoshiwara no Hana Utamaro, c. Ukiyo-e prints were the works of teams of artisans in several workshops;  it was rare for designers to cut their own woodblocks. Ukiyo-e prints were impressed on hand-made paper  manually, rather than by mechanical press as in the West. The block-cutter cut away the non-black areas of the image, leaving raised areas that were inked to leave an impression.
Prints were made with blocks face up so the printer could vary pressure for different effects, and watch as paper absorbed the water-based sumi ink,  applied quickly in even horizontal strokes. The ukiyo-e print was a commercial art form, and the publisher played an important role.
The number peaked at around in the s and s  — in Edo alone  —and slowly shrank following the opening of Japan until about 40 remained at the opening of the 20th century. The publishers owned the woodblocks and copyrights, and from the late 18th century enforced copyrights  through the Picture Book and Print Publishers Guild.
The woodblocks were also traded or sold to other publishers or pawnshops.
Print designers went through apprenticeship before being granted the right to produce prints of their own that they could sign with their own names. As the artists gained fame publishers usually covered these costs, and artists could demand higher fees. An artist's name consisted of a gasei artist surname followed by an azana personal art name.
The prints were mass-marketed  and by the midth century total circulation of a print could run into the thousands. The woodblock printing process in a print by Kunisada , An actual print shop would not have been staffed by such beauties. While colour printing in Japan dates to the s, early ukiyo-e prints used only black ink. Colour was sometimes added by hand, using a red lead ink in tan-e prints, or later in a pink safflower ink in beni-e prints. Colour printing arrived in books in the s and in single-sheet prints in the s, with a different block and printing for each colour.
Early colours were limited to pink and green; techniques expanded over the following two decades to allow up to five colours. Printers first used natural colour dyes made from mineral or vegetable sources. The dyes had a translucent quality that allowed a variety of colours to be mixed from primary red, blue, and yellow pigments.
The colours were harsher and brighter than traditional pigments. The Meiji government promoted their use as part of broader policies of Westernization. Contemporary records of ukiyo-e artists are rare. Before World War II, the predominant view of ukiyo-e stressed the centrality of prints; this viewpoint ascribes ukiyo-e's founding to Moronobu. Following the war, thinking turned to the importance of ukiyo-e painting and making direct connections with 17th-century Yamato-e paintings; this viewpoint sees Matabei as the genre's originator, and is especially favoured in Japan.
This view had become widespread among Japanese researchers by the s, but the militaristic government of the time suppressed it, wanting to emphasize a division between the Yamato-e scroll paintings associated with the court, and the prints associated with the sometimes anti-authoritarian merchant class. The earliest comprehensive historical and critical works on ukiyo-e came from the West. His Masters of Ukioye of was the first comprehensive overview and set the stage for most later works with an approach to the history in terms of epochs: beginning with Matabei in a primitive age, it evolved towards a lateth-century golden age that began to decline with the advent of Utamaro, and had a brief revival with Hokusai and Hiroshige's landscapes in the s.
Michener 's The Floating World in broadly followed the chronologies of the earlier works, while dropping classifications into periods and recognizing the earlier artists not as primitives but as accomplished masters emerging from earlier painting traditions. The book acknowledges artists such as Yoshitoshi and Kiyochika as late masters. The book nevertheless recognizes a larger number of masters from throughout this last period than earlier works had,  and viewed ukiyo-e painting as a revival of Yamato-e painting.
Ukiyo-e scholarship has tended to focus on the cataloguing of artists, an approach that lacks the rigour and originality that has come to be applied to art analysis in other areas. Such catalogues are numerous, but tend overwhelmingly to concentrate on a group of recognized geniuses. Little original research has been added to the early, foundational evaluations of ukiyo-e and its artists, especially with regard to relatively minor artists.
Standards for inclusion in the ukiyo-e canon rapidly evolved in the early literature. Utamaro was particularly contentious, seen by Fenollosa and others as a degenerate symbol of ukiyo-e's decline; Utamaro has since gained general acceptance as one of the form's greatest masters.