Beginning as early as the 8th century and continuing for nearly 1000 years, woodblock printing was used primarily to communicate and disseminate text, especially Buddhist scriptures. Technical advancements in 1765 allowed for the production of single-sheet woodblocks in a range of colors. Printmakers previously used to monochrome printing now could produce polychrome painted woodblock art, which led to vividly spectacular productions.
Japan’s Edo period saw woodblock paintings used to depict seductive courtesans and Kabuki actors and eventually artists used the medium to produce beautiful illustrations of vistas and important landscapes in Japan. Famed woodblock printers and artists included Kitagawa Utamaro, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kunisada, Suzuki Harunobu and Utagawa Hiroshige.
Sepia Times, a UIG contributing partner, features woodblock prints from the Edo Era, 1603 – 1868 and the Meiji Era, 1868 – 1912. The collection started with vintage Japanese prints from the Liszt Collection, an art collection with roots in 19th century Hungary, Europe.
The Sepia Times and Liszt Collections include more than 300,000 images of engravings, prints, illustrations and maps. To license images from the Sepia Times collection, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Asian Art. “Woodblock Prints in the Ukiyo-e Style.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ukiy/hd_ukiy.htm (October 2003)