Monday, 12 November 2012


If you are heading over to Oxford to see the new Meiji period textile show at the Ashmolean why not pop into to Sanders to see our fantastic collection of Meiji woodblock prints.

The Ashmolean exhibition promises to be a spectacular display: While it turns cold outside, the Ashmolean’s autumn-winter exhibition celebrates sumptuous interiors. Many of us are aware of the beauty of the traditional Japanese kimono. ‘Threads of Silk and Gold’ introduces the less well known but equally spectacular ornamental textiles that were made for western homes during Japan’s Meiji era (1868–1912). This was the famous period of Japonisme, which saw the European Impressionist painters exploring themes and styles taken from Japanese art, and Victorian rooms filled with Japanese decorative arts and crafts.

Winter Boat Ride  
Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e)
Ôban tate-e single sheet [9.5 x 14 inches]
Signature: Toyohara Kunichika hitsu
Publisher: Takegawa Seikichi
Series: Genji gojuyon jo: 54 Modern Feelings Compared with Genji-e.

Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900) was talented as a child and at about thirteen he became a student of Tokyo's then-leading print maker, Utagawa Kunisada. His deep appreciation and knowledge of kabuki drama led to his production primarily of ukiyo-e actor-prints, woodblock prints of kabuki actors and scenes from popular plays of the time. An alcoholic and womanizer, Kunichika also portrayed beautiful women (bijin-ga), contemporary social life, and a few landscapes and historical scenes. He worked successfully in the Edo period, and carried those traditions into the Meiji period. To his contemporaries and now to some modern art historians, this has been seen as a significant achievement during a transitional period of great social and political change in Japan's history.

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