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The Japanese Sword Workshop, offer youUkiyo-e, original Japanese prints on the theme of Samurai:

We have a few parts in stock.

We can  do research for you according to your needs.

To do this, we define together your specifications with:

  • The theme

  • Condition (Very good, good, etc.)

  • Age (Meiji period, Edo, etc.)

  • Maximum price range (To avoid surprises)








​DESCRIPTIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GOODS OFFERED FOR SALE:The goods are described according to the knowledge on the object of the moment and can be modified at any time, according to the evolution of these.Descriptions are not Expertise,but reflect the knowledge acquired on the subject. All the information contained in this document (which may be modified at any time),are delivered for information purposes only and cannot be held as contractual and do not in any way engage the persons who drafted them.They are made in full transparency and made in good faith, without falsification of any kind.

TAll items offered are guaranteed authentic and original from the period, unless otherwise specified.



Exceptional and unique old painting from the Edo period (18th century) on pearlescent paper roll, painted by the artist 蘭徳斎春堂 “Rantokusai Shundo”, dated February 25, 1793.















Price: 9800 €, excluding postage


This old painting on a roll of pearly paper, called: Nikuhitsu Emakimono "(肉筆絵巻物) represents the many objects and attire specific to Japanese warriors (Samurai), helmets, masks, armor, swords, scabbards, arrows, bows, quivers, spears of all kinds, muskets, bear hair shoes, banners, helmet decorations, etc., etc.

The brush stroke is precise and meticulous and the objects (Bugu) are painted with colors produced using numerous mineral pigments, the fruit of long-term research work by the artist. Each object is accompanied by precise descriptions, painted with a brush in black ink.

At the end of the roll, the artist affixed his signature, "Rantokusai Shundo" (蘭徳斎春堂) as well as the date of its creation, i.e. February 25, 1793 (Kansei 5), followed by a square stamp red. "Rantokusai Shundo" also called "Katsukawa Shundo" was active between: 1772 and 1801 and was a student of Shunsho, (勝川春章1726-1792) great and former master of the Edo period (Tenmei era), of the Ukiyo-e(浮世絵 school. Shundo was a great specialist in the representations of Kabuki actors in their theatrical roles and participated in the illustration of numerous works.

Some of his works are in the British Museum in London, as well as in the library of Waseda (Tokyo). A few scrolls describing historical episodes or stories are also present in the BNF collections, visible on Gallica. These are rare pieces.

Roll Features:

  • Length: about 5.27m

  • Width with end caps: approx. 25.7cm

  • Width without the tips: about 24.3cm

  • 2 carved and polished horn tips

  • The roll is in excellent condition with a few stains and 1 small burn of 5mm in diameter and in its original protective box in Kiri (in Paulownia).




1- Artist:Torii Kiyonobu II - Active: (1726 - 1760)













Price: 1380 €, excluding postage

Era :Edo period, Horeki era

Scene taken from the battle of Yashima during the conflict of Genpei, in 1185, where the Samurai Nasu no Yoichi Munetaka, crossing the sea on his horse, is going to shoot with an arrow at a fan attached to a boat, which he manages to reach .


Original printin B/W around 1740-50


State :Very good state.

2 - Artist:Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769 - 1825)


​​Price: 1700 €, excluding postage

Era :Edo period, Bunka era 11 (1814) Jan.

Date :1814.1

Signature :Toyokuni ga (Toyokuni artwork)  
Stamps:Kiwame and Publisher: Yamaguchi Tobei
Dimensions:37.9 X 25.4cm X 2

Diptych with Kabuki theater scene. Ichikawa Omezo as Ebina and Ichikawa Danjuro as Soga Goro (Famous Shibaraku episode). Diptych print by Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825) - The actors Ichikawa Danjuro VI as Goro Tokimune and Ichikawa Omezo as Ebina.


Description :Play: 双蝶々化粧曽我 "Futatsu Chouchou yoso oisoga" Actors Ichikawa Danjuro V as Goro Tokimune and Ichikawa Omezo as Ebina

Size:vertical Oban
Theater :Morita, Edo
State :Very good printing, very good colors, unlined, some soiling on the whole surface, an ink stain on the left hand, very good general conditions.






3 - Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769 - 1825)













​​Actor Ichikawa Omezo Otomo no Yanushi, dressed as an Eizen pilgrim.

Price: 1350 €, excluding postage

Era :Edo period
Size:vertical oban
Dimensions:38.3 x 25.8cm
Date :around 1809
Signature :Toyokuni ga (work of Toyokuni)
Stamps:Kiwame Publisher: Hirano Choeimon (平野長右衛門)

Description :The actor Ichikawa Hakuen had this name from Nov.1798 until Oct. 1806.

Hakuen played the role of: Otomo no Yamanushi, disguised as an Eizen pilgrim, in the Kaomise drama "Oishigeru Nami no Une Une" 生茂波☆渦 おいしげるなみのうねうね which was performed in Nov. 1800 at the Ichimura Theater.

State :Excellent printing, very good colours, unlined, a few small wormholes filled in, untrimmed, very slight crease in the middle, very fresh colours, excellent general condition. Rare.



4 - Artist:Utagawa Gountei Sadahide  (1807-1879)



​​​Price: SOLD

Era :Edo period (1853)

Signature :on each piece, with date stamps, censor's stamp and publisher.

Complete triptych but belonging to a series of 6 pieces. (very rare !)
Title: Takeda Yushi Zoroi, name of each warrior in cartouche, and order to wear traditional armor properly. The brave soldiers of Clan Takeda (Shingen). Important triptych indicating the order from right to left, to arrive to wear the Yoroi, traditional armor of the Samurai.


Well known for his representations of the city of Yokohama, and aerial views.

Title :Takeda Yushi Soroi (武田勇士揃) The brave warriors of the Takeda Clan (Shingen).

Description :Important piece indicating the order (1a9) from right to left, to manage to protect oneself and succeed in wearing this famous breastplate of the Samurai, Yoroi (鎧), warriors of the Edo period and in this example from the time of the great warrior Takeda Shingen.

Skin underwear with belt, 二 Wearing the Hakama, long skirt,

Leg protective underwear, 四 Lacing of sandals,

Wearing a skirt with metal plates and a belt,

Putting on long gloves,

Positioning of metal leg guards,

Arm and chest protection、

Neck and shoulder protection.

All before positioning the flexible metal breastplate, made of slats joined by cords, Yoroi, and the famous helmet with various shapes and attributes Kabuto (兜). To simplify. In a red cartridge next to each character, the name of the warrior, and his territorial attributes of lord.

All on a Maku (幕) curtain background with the Kamon (家紋) emblem of the Clan of Takeda Shingen (武田信玄).


Size:Oban, Three successive sheets forming a triptych. (三枚続き) Nishiki-e.

Date :November 1853.

Signature :Goun Sadahide Ga (五雲貞秀画Work of Goun Sadahide)

Stamps:Kaiin+date,and Editor:Yamahisa 

State :Excellent printing, very good colors, unlined, separated, some professionally repaired worm marks, mainly at the top of the page in the curtain, absolutely not interfering with the appreciation of the piece, otherwise very good general condition.

Noticed :Rare and very interesting didactic piece for all lovers of the history of the art of combat and the clothing of the Samurai (侍).

Very good printing and beautiful colors. A few restored holes in the curtain. Unlined.




5 - Artist: Toyohara Kunichika (1835 - 1900)


Price: €980, excluding postage

Era :Meiji era

"Scene of the Loyal Warriors, (47 Ronin)",  Battle preparations for revenge, at Ryogoku Bridge. Tokyo" 義士復讐両国橋引揚之図

Description :the 47 ancient Samurai in a landscape of snow, their name inscribed on the lapel of their Kimono, carrying various weapons and a Samurai riding a horse (rare) named Hattori Hachiro, red cartouche. One of the historical episodes of Japan, also called: The vengeance of the brave warriors, for their Master. Historical episode of Chushingura, found in many media such as: Kabuki, Cinema.

Date stamp:Meiji 17.08 (1884)

Publisher:Fukuda Kumajiro in Edo, Nihombashi

Size:Oban x 3p Dimensions: 35.6×24.3×70.4 cm

State :Very nice print, beautiful Meiji colors. On the first 2 sheets on the right, the list of names and surnames of the participating Ronins.

State :unlined, a fold in the left margin for 2 prints, some stains, slightly cropped, but very good general condition. Fairly rare piece! For collectors of Samurai and other Bugu weapons.

Set of three prints. Scene of warriors and snowy landscape in the background.



6 - Artist:Utagawa Yoshifuji (1828-1887)      
























Price: €380, excluding postage


Era :Meiji era

Depicting a party with children in various outfits to call the rain, “Amagoi”

No signing, the right part of a diptych.

Description :Kodomo no E. This is a festival, also known as Matsuri, which took place at the very beginning of August each year, in order to protect the fields from the summer drought, which leads to famine due to lack of rice. This party was located in the Pref. from Kanagawa, near Tokyo, in the city of Isehara and called (Amagoi) "Let the rain fall!".

The print represents two teams of young boys, facing each other to keep the Bonten, (the mast topped with a braided wicker barrel decorated with prayers) a young man in a monk's costume, watches so that the procession does not turn into a pujillat. 2 women watching, concerned.

Era :circa 1860-1890

Size:vertical Oban

Dimensions:35.6 x 21.3cm

State :Very nice print, good condition (1 stain), unlined. shortened on the sides. Good state of preservation, quite rare.

Print (Yoshi Fuji) circa 1880 Amagoi

7 - Artist:Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826-1869)





Price: SOLD

Japanese Print, Edo Meisho Yonju Hakkei By Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826-1869)

Artist :
Utagawa Hiroshige II (Suzuki Hiroshige) (歌川派広重二代 1826-1869). Son-in-law of the first.
Title :Edo Meisho Yonju Hakkei (江戸四十八景). The 48 Famous Views of Edo.
Subtitle :Horikiri Hana Shobu (堀切花菖蒲). Blooming irises in Horikiri (Tokyo district). Number 16 in the series. One of the recognized series of the Artist and collected by amateurs.

Description :At the time of flowering (mid-June) of the different varieties of iris, indicated by signs, some walkers protect themselves from the already strong sun, with umbrellas, while others rest while taking tea, in the pavilions reserves for this purpose on the small hill in the garden.

Size:Chuban, Nishiki-e.
Dimensions:24.8 x 18.2cm
Date :January 1861.
Signed:Hiroshige Ga (広重二代画 Work by Hiroshige2)
State :Very good impression, good colors, original album mount on the back. A few stains. Good conditions.

Reduced format but which gives the theme treated, an impact and a great conciseness to the design.




8 - Artist:Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826-1869)





Price: 350 €, excluding postage

Japanese Print, Edo Meisho Yonju Hakkei By Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826-1869)

Artist :
Utagawa Hiroshige II (Suzuki Hiroshige) (歌川派広重二代 1826-1869). Son-in-law of the first.
Title: Edo Meisho Yonju Hakkei (江戸四十八景). The 48 Famous Views of Edo.
Subtitle :In a coiled fan-shaped Hanji-e(判じ絵) near the title cartouche reading: Sumida Gawa(墨田川) Sumida River, No. 17 in the series. One of the recognized series of the Artist and Collected by amateurs.

Description :At cherry blossom time, a few walkers walk the raised bank (土手) of the major Sumida River (which runs through Tokyo), while others take advantage of the time to cruise down the river in a boat.

Size:Chuban, Nishiki-e.
Dimensions:24.8 x 18.2cm
Date :January 1861.
Signed:Hiroshige Ga (広重二代画 Work by Hiroshige2)
State :Very good printing, very good colors, original album mount on the back, Excellent condition.

With censor and publisher's stamp Tsutakichi Ban(Tsutaya Kichizo)

Reduced format but which gives the subject matter a stronger impact and a great conciseness to the design. Interesting layout, with nice perspective.




9 - Artist:Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826-1869)

​​Price :SOLD

Japanese Print, Edo Meisho Yonju Hakkei By Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826-1869)

Artist :
Utagawa Hiroshige II (Suzuki Hiroshige) (歌川派広重二代 1826-1869). Son-in-law of the first.
Title: Edo Meisho Yonju Hakkei (江戸四十八景). The 48 Famous Views of Edo.
Subtitle :In a coiled fan-shaped Hanji-e (判じ絵) near the title cartouche indicating: Nezu Kongen「Jinja」(根津権現), No. 11. One of the recognized series of the Artist and Collected by amateurs.

Description :At cherry blossom time, a few walkers walk the cobblestone path to one of Tokyo's 10 Shinto Shrines, also known for its 3,000 azaleas blooming after the cherry trees.

Size:Chuban, Nishiki-e.
Dimensions:24.8 x 18.2cm
Date :January 1861.
Signed:Hiroshige Ga (広重二代画 Work by Hiroshige2)
State :Very good printing, very good colors, original album mount on the back, Excellent condition.

With censor and publisher's stamp Tsutakichi Ban(Tsutaya Kichizo)

Reduced format but which gives to the theme treated, a stronger impact and a great conciseness to the design. Interesting layout, with nice perspective.








7 - Artist:Ando Hiroshige I (1797 - 1858)

​​​​​Price: 1100 €, excluding postage



Sign :Rissai Artist name, of Hiroshige I, during his early career.

Paint :Watercolor on silk, very finely and delicately painted.

Calligraphic signature, Rissai and square stamp, red.From a collection of an old French aristocratic family, politician and poet. One can imagine that these works were made on special order to the artist. From a collection of several works.


Era :Edo period around 1835-1840

Description :Historical episode. Moonlight on a moor of reeds (Harano no tsuki), Historical episode that can also be found in the 100 aspects of the Moon, (Tsuki hyakushi) series of prints created by TSUKIOKA Yoshitoshi (1868-1912), 1888.

In the plain covered with reeds, under the full moon, a robed aristocrat plays the flute, a crouching thief stands ready to pounce on him.

State :Excellent condition.

Calligraphic signature, Rissai and square stamp, red. From a collection of an old French aristocratic family, politician and poet. One can imagine that these works were made to order.

Unique and original piece.



8 - Artist:Ando Hiroshige (1797 - 1858)









Price: 1100 €, excluding postage



Era :Edo period around 1835-1840

Description :Historical Episode - During the Genpei War, from the story Ise Monogatari and the battle of Yashima in the strait between Honshu and Shikoku, the famous Warrior Prince, "Minamoto Yoshitsune" (High-ranking Samurai Warrior Prince), of the Kamakura period with occult powers, riding his mount and descending an extremely steep slope, impossible for other warriors.

Scene very finely and delicately painted on silk, view of the trees clinging to the mountain and in the distance the "Setonaikai" sea.

State :Excellent condition.

Reference on the signature "Rissai", by Ando Hiroshige. This pseudonym was used by Hiroshige (53 stages of Tokaido) at the start of his career. His follower Hiroshige II, had the pseudonym Rissho, before the death of his father-in-law, then Suzuki Hiroshige (II).

From a collection of an old French aristocratic family, politician and poet. One can imagine that these works were made to order.

Unique and original piece.

Parchemin panoramique 120 dpi - Copie 22 11.jpg




These sold very well and from then on, images printed with wooden plates, as well as illustrated books were widely available to the general public. Not only did he sign each woodblock print, but his signature announced to the public that he himself took his status as an artist seriously. It was Yamato Esho, a great master of Japanese painting.

In Kyoto in the 16th century, a troupe of artists, led by a woman, became popular. She specialized in dances performed by men disguised as women and women as men. Many of these groups appeared very quickly, some of which included only women who had little interest in dancing and preferred to sell their sexual services.

Quickly, the authorities banned these troops. The girls were then replaced by boys who, in turn, were also banned for the same reason. Eventually, grown men took over all the roles and began hosting shows featuring the most popular stories of the day.

These performances became the form of Kabuki theater, which has survived to this day with very little modification. In the slang of the time, Kabuku meant "Fashion", and the name Kabuki is thought to derive its name from this word. The theater is not only "La mode", it was also very popular, partly because it was the only entertainment that could be done outside and where respectable women could go.


Not only were well-to-do women and merchant daughters flocking to the theater, but court ladies with a few days off could go too. Some of these women were lucky enough to have actors as lovers, but most of them had to settle for an image of the portrait of their favorite.

The publishers, aware of this demand, commissioned artists to portray all aspects of the life of the actor and Kabuki theater. They showed the actors relaxing backstage, in dramatic poses, or just walking around. They produced portraits as well as group images. The theater was an inexhaustible source of subjects for printers, and print runs were stimulated by the popularity of actors and plays.

There were also many male Kabuki enthusiasts. For men, however, there was a more important place of entertainment, the pleasure houses. Artisans and merchants possessed enough money to enable them to live much of their lives with courtesans and prostitutes.

A great industry developed to meet their needs. In 1627, all the prostitutes and pleasure houses of Edo were concentrated in one place, "Yoshiwara", and it was in this only place where prostitution was authorized.

After the devastating fire of 1657, which destroyed virtually all of Edo, forced the city to rethink its layout and rebuild everything that had been destroyed. Another district was specially authorized to accommodate prostitution and was called the "New Yoshiwara", which continued in its specialized trade, until 1951.

For the theme of the courtesan and the printers chose a large number of subjects. Although explicit erotic prints were popular, the courtesan was also often depicted, showing off her extravagant Kimonos, as a fashion model would do today, with her latest hairstyle and enjoying her supposedly idle life. She was a star and her portrait, bought by admirers and by those who wished to afford it, increased the demand and therefore the profits of the printing press.

One day, Hishikawa Moronobu signed his prints and proclaimed himself "Master", other artists followed his example. As is often the case in Japanese customs and usages, master-student relationships developed.

Schools of printmaking emerged, and each had its favorite subjects and characteristic style. They were almost part of the family, because the best student often married into his master's family, which established a real blood connection.





In the families of the early 18th century, such as the Hisikawa (Disciples of Moronobu), the Torii (who specialized in the prints of actors) and the Kaigetsudo (Masters of the prints of beautiful women) were particularly important.

The beginning of the 18th century was the period of development of techniques for printing prints. The quality of the paper was improved, the shapes and sizes of the prints became more varied and the polyptychs (Set of painted or printed panels) were used for the prints.

Printing techniques became increasingly sophisticated. Urushi-e (lacquer print) was developed, especially in works where the black should shine. The support was coated with a mixture of glue and printing ink. However, the greatest technical innovation lay in the use of color. From the beginning, in the deluxe editions, the engravings were richly colored by hand.

Towards the middle of the 18th century, Okumura Masanobu (a printer, but also an artist) experimented with the use of several blocks of wood to print images, which could be composed of up to three colors, this technique took the name of "Beni -e".

These colors were not contained by the outlines of the basic drawing.

However, the first truly polychromatic print, called "Nishiki-e", (brocade print) appeared around 1769.

An Edo artist, Suzuki Harunobu published a series of prints, in which the colors were either delineated by an already printed outline, or with protruding outlines from the printing plates.

These prints were an instant hit and Harunobu was Edo's most popular artist until his death six years later at the age of 46. He produced ethereal prints, portraits of young men and women, posing with exquisite grace.

















Master Kanjiro Sato

​​​T​​​_d04a07d8- 9cd1-3239-9149-20813d6c673b_​intangible and cultural treasure of Tokyo

Tokyo Traditional Master Craftsman

Japanese "Ukiyo-e" prints

Ukiyo-e belongs to two major periods of Japanese history: the Edo period, which includes Ukiyo-e from its origins to about 1867, then (Much less significantly) the Meiji era which continues until 1912. As a whole, the Edo period was rather calm, thus providing an ideal environment for the development of art in a commercial form. The Meiji era, it is distinguished by the opening of Japan to the West and the decline of traditional Ukiyo-e, in its style, its subjects and its techniques (Arrival of chemical colors, for example).

​ The brilliant and intimately endearing art of Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) is arguably the most universally known of all Japanese arts. In Japan, this particular style of art flourished from the middle of the 17th century until the middle of the 19th century.

Japanese prints are often referred to as Ukiyo-e. The word Ukiyo-e of Buddhist origin, means "Sad world". In the 17th century, however, the meaning evolved to mean "floating world". This targeted world is one of ephemeral pleasures, freed from the cares and concerns of the world.

​ The prints and paintings that merchants commissioned and purchased almost always depicted aspects of a carefree life and were therefore called Ukiyo-e: "Pictures of the Floating World".

To understand engravings and gain respect for this art, we must understand the specificities of Ukiyo-e, or at least know the way in which printers, who were particularly fond of scenes representing the theater, life in pleasure quarters, chose their themes. In essence, Ukiyo-e reveals much of Japan's rich history.

In Japan, during the 16th century, long periods of rival wars between feudal lords ended and the country was unified. Following the peace and unification of Japan, the traditional arts experienced a renaissance. The military class, the Samurai, began to embellish their castles, which until then had been no more than defense fortresses.

Painters and sculptors were hired to decorate the sliding doors, ceilings and wooden panels, while weavers and seamstresses were tasked with producing extravagantly beautiful garments. Every form of art and craft was vitalized by the powerful Samurai's desire to make their lives as luxurious as possible.

The great merchant families of the cities of Kyoto and Sakai, whose money had provided the Samurai with guns and ammunition, also wanted to improve the quality of life. As they were of a lower social order than the military, the merchants did not claim to be part of the aristocracy and as such could not appreciate the intricacies of fine arts and culture.

They asked for paintings and prints of pretty courtesans, went to see performances of the new "Kabuki" dances, and read richly illustrated popular books. Some of these stories were written on parchments, some were bound. The demand for these illustrated manuscripts, however, became so great that it could no longer be done by hand. Thus, the picture book printed from wooden plates was born.

In Japan, although the technique of printing from woodblocks had been known for many centuries, and although printed Chinese books were quite common, the first Japanese illustrated book printed from woodblocks, n appeared only around 1650. This book was the "Monogatari Ise", a traditional tale. The illustrations in these early printed books were rudimentary and subordinate to the text.

Very soon, however, the images became more important and gave people access to an accessible form of art. Even those who were illiterate bought the books for the beauty of the images. Around 1660, many illustrators worked under contract for publishers in Japan's most important cities, such as Edo (now Tokyo). One of them, Hishikawa Moronobu, persuaded his publisher to publish illustrations in the form of single sheets, without texts.



































































































​​The main artists

  • Moronobu and the beginnings of Ukiyo-e

  • Moronobu (1618-1694), founder of Ukiyo-e

  • Sugimura Jihei (active from 1681 to 1698), with a style close to Moronobu, with whom he has long been confused

  • Kiyonobu (1664-1729), founder of the Torii school

  • Masanobu (1686-1764), great innovator, one of the very first to work on Western perspective

  • Toshinobu (active from 1716 to 1751), of a style close to Masanobu

  • Toyonobu (1711-1785), in a style close to Masanobu

  • Kaigetsudo Ando (active 1700–1714), master of the Kaigetsudo workshop

  • Kaigetsudo Anchi (active 1704–1736), his student, and possibly his son

  • Kaigetsudo Dohan (active 1704–1716), pupil of Ando

  • Kaigetsudo Doshin (active early 18th century), student of Ando

  • Matsuno Chikanobu (active from 1704 to 1716), with a style close to Kaigetsudo

  • Baioken Eishun (active from around 1710 to 1755), with a style close to Kaigetsudo

  • Miyagawa Choshun (1683-1753), a high-quality but poorly known artist

  • Sukenobu (1671-1751), artist from Kyoto, inspirer of Harunobu

Harunobu and his heirs

  • Harunobu (about 1725-1770), creator of the "Brocade print"

  • Suzuki Harushige (1747 - 1818), Harunobu imitator

  • Koryusai (1735-1790), whose initial style is very close to that of Harunobu

  • Shunsho (1726-1792), leader of the Katsukawa school

  • Buncho (active from 1756 to 1790), whose style is close to that of Harunobu

  • Katsukawa Shun'ei (1762-1819), pupil of Shunsho, known for the quality of his portraits of Kabuki actors


The Golden Age of Ukiyo-e: Kiyonaga, Utamaro, Sharaku and the Others

  • Kiyonaga (1752-1815), one of the greatest Ukiyo-e artists, innovative both in style and technique

  • Shuncho (active from 1770 to the end of the 18th century), with a style similar to that of Kiyonaga

  • Shunman (1757-1820), whose refined style was inspired by that of Kiyonaga

  • Katsukawa Shunzan (active between 1782 and 1798), with a style close to that of Kiyonaga

  • Utamaro (1753-1806), whose Okubi-e prints on a micaceous background are one of the peaks of Ukiyo-e

  • Sharaku (active in 1794 and 1795), a dazzling career of a few months in Kabuki printmaking

  • Eishi (1756-1829), a former Samurai, whose elegant art continues that of Utamaro

  • Eisho (active between 1790 and 1799), pupil of Eishi, close to Utamaro by his Okubi-e

  • Eisui (active between 1790 and 1823), pupil of Eishi, close to Utamaro by his Okubi-e

  • Toyokuni (1769-1825), best known for his portraits of Kabuki actors

  • Choki (late 18th - early 19th century), an original talent that somewhat evokes the style of Kiyonaga


Hokusai, Hiroshige and the end of traditional Ukiyo-e

  • Toyoharu (1735-1814), whose study of Western perspective paved the way for Hiroshige

  • Hokusai (1760-1849), one of the two great Ukiyo-e artists of the 19th century

  • Hiroshige (1797-1858), his rival and equal

  • Keisai Eisen (1790-1848), works with Hiroshige on the series The Sixty-nine Stations of Kiso Kaido

  • Kuniyoshi (1797 or 1798-1861), of whom Yoshitoshi was a pupil

  • Kunisada (1786-1865), contemporary of Hiroshige


Yoshitoshi, then Shin hanga and Sosaku hanga

  • Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), the last great Ukiyo-e artist

  • Kunichika (1835-1900), student of Kunisada

  • Kawase Hasui (1883-1957), leader of a new approach to Japanese prints

  • Ito Shinsui (1898-1972), Shinhanga artist



The different types of prints:

Depending on the paper size used:

  • Chuban (25 to 26 cm x 17 to 19 cm),

  • Oban (37 to 38 cm x 25.5 cm),

  • Hashira-e (70 to 75 cm x 12 to 14.5 cm),

  • Hosoban (33cm x 15cm)

  • Nagaban (approximately 20 cm x 50 cm),

  • Aiban, approximately 34 cm x 22 cm,

  • O-oban, or large Oban, approximately 58 cm x 32 cm,


According to orientation:

  • Tate-e ("Portrait" Orientation)

  • Yoko-e ("Landscape" Orientation)


Depending on the colors applied and especially their number:

  • Sumizuri-e, without any color, so in black and white.

  • Tan-e, sumizuri-e hand enhanced with Tan orange color.

  • Urushi-e, using thickened ink with glue to make it shiny.

  • Beni-e, sumizuri-e enhanced by hand with beni color.

  • Benizuri-e, colored by printing with Beni color (green being sometimes added).

  • Nishiki-e, the "richest", because it potentially appeals to all colors.



The making of prints

To avoid any confusion :

There are Ukiyo-e works that are not prints: this is the case with paintings such as those of Kaigetsudo and most Ukiyo-e artists.

Conversely, there are woodblock prints that are not Ukiyo-e: this is the case, for example, of Buddhist prints.
















Gouges for engraving wooden printing plates

But it is indeed within the framework of Ukiyo-e that the Japanese print, engraved on wood, knew its full development. And, conversely, it is thanks to the many prints authorized by the print that Ukiyo-e was able to become so popular.







​ Engraving of a wooden printing plate

Ukiyo-e print proofs are produced as follows:

  1. The artist creates a master drawing in ink, the Shita-e.

  2. The artisan engraver sticks this drawing against a wooden board (Cherry or catalpa), then hollows out with the help of gouges (Marunomi) the areas where the paper is white, thus creating the drawing in relief on the board, but destroying the original work during this process.

  3. The engraved plate ("Planche de trait") is inked and printed in such a way as to produce almost perfect copies of the original drawing.

  4. These proofs are in turn glued to new wooden boards, and the areas of the drawing to be colored a particular color are left in relief. Each of the boards will print at least one color in the final image. These are the "Color Boards".

  5. The resulting set of wooden planks is inked in the different colors and successively applied to the paper. The perfect fit of each board to the rest of the frame is achieved by wedging marks called Kento. The inking is obtained by rubbing the paper against the inked plate using a Baren pad made of bamboo rope.


The final print bears the patterns of each of the boards, some of which can be applied more than once in order to obtain the depth of shade desired.

Demonstration by Master Nakata Noboru

A demonstration of a traditional Ukiyo-e master, in front of an international audience in the Mejiro district, in Tokyo.

Master Nakata, with a perfect mastery of his equipment, installed on a small stage, gave information on the process and answered questions from different people.





Master Nakata Noboru begins by fixing a sheet of paper

For anyone who doesn't know, Ukiyo-e visually resembles paintings (as the originals were), but this art form is rooted in the reproduction of originals. The images to be printed were made in such a way as to be reproduced in large numbers... giving the appearance of an "Original" image is only a somewhat vague explanation.








"Great Wave off Kanagawa" printing plate

and the pots of the different colors needed

It is very impressive to see very detailed images printed only with wooden plates. The demonstration focuses on the most famous of Ukiyo-e, "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" (By Hokusai).

Master Nakata's mastery of printing has enabled him to produce a number of prints from cherry wood blocks. To construct each image, he had to repeat the same operation several times to print layer by layer, a single color at a time, without it mixing with the others.





Brushes used for the application of colors and pigments for mixtures

He works very quickly (The prints dry quickly), he puts water on the block, spreading it, then adds the ink and the glue. When the prints begin to shape the future image, they reveal all the intrinsic art of Ukiyo-e, such as graphics, the carving of the printing plates, the realization of the pigments of different colors, etc.






Master Nakata Noboru, ink the printing plate

When the prints were printed, people could touch and admire the result and work done.

If you compare the gradient gray around Mount Fuji to the original, you can see a real difference. Master Nakata's prints, were made for demonstration only...the quality (Although very good in the eyes of the public) was not good enough for sale.

Here is the result: The Great Wave off Kanagawa, by Hokusai

The most famous print in the world

Three prints by Hokusai

Directed by Master Nakata

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