Art 425 The Japanese Print

Torii Kiyomitsu I, 1735-1785. The actor Ichikawa Yaozō as Tengawaya Shihei resting on a large chest. Color woodblock print. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2009.00703


Prof. Watsky’s class ART 425/EAS 425 The Japanese Print split their time on Wednesday between the Marquand Library collection and the Graphic Arts Collection. This seminar has been examining Japanese woodblock prints from the 17th through the 19th century, including the formal and technical aspects of prints, the varied subject matter–including the “floating world” of the brothel districts and theatre, the Japanese landscape, and urban centers–and the links between literature and prints. At the end of the class, the students will select a print or two to purchase for the University.

Our session included not only final prints but the tools and techniques used to make them. Scrolls, bound books, and individual prints were examined.

Nicole Fabricand-Person, Japanese Art Specialist showed the famous “whale” book, by Nanki Josuiken from 1794. This was the first time the whale is identified as a mammal. She also talked about Nanshoku ōkagami: Honchō waka fūzoku [The Great Mirror of Male Love: the Custom of Boy Love in Our Land] written by Ihara Saikaku in 1687. Read her wonderful post on the series here:

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1798-1861. Half-length portrait of an actor as a sumo wrestler. Color woodblock print. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2009.00746

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892. Geisha seated for her photograph, 1881. Color woodblock print. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2009.00737