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Japanese ukiyo-e masterpieces

Updated on March 3, 2013

[0:00~0:37]
This is a print of the great artist of the Edo period(1600-1869), Utamato Kitagawa 喜多川歌麿. The best usage of the whiteness of Washi(Japanese paper). Bewitching girl' s skin. Tasteful clothing. This is the magnificent work presenting a girl wondering about love. The colour used in Ukiyo-e is pale. Paints that are so well preserved are really rare.


[0:38~0:57]
Prostitutes that, just had a bath. On the paint, that is in the museum in Boston, we can see that Utamaro originally made cloth on the arm semi transparent, so diagonally painted arm is visible. This paint miraculously haven't faded.


[0:58~3:34]
Kunimasa 国政

Offensively looking faces of Kabuki(One of the Japanese theaters) actors, that take almost the whole place of the composition. Kunimasa Utagawa was creating his arts about the same time as Sharaku(1794-1795). However, only little works survived up to this day and in Japan isn't anyone, who would research paintings of Kunimasa. In the collection of paints of this artist are the ones like:
1.Ichikawa Ebizou no Shibaraku Ichikawa Ebizou was Ichikawa Danjuurou the fifth. Paint presents actor in a predicament. Shibaraku was the hero of the citizens of Edo. His name was making criminals shiver. Kunimasa painted face of Shibaraku with muscles and veins tumid in anger.

2. Fighting with ghosts in the dark, Taida no Kiomori. This Ukiyo-e became the representative one for Kunimasa art. Kunimasa was 22 years old, when he created this. Why his debiut was so impact? Group of researchers noticed that publisher of Kunimasa Ukiyo-e was Uemura Yohei. At that time he was developing publisher. Continuing his career, he was publishing Kunimasa paints one after one.

3. Matsumoto Yonesaburou, young Onnagata (actor, who plays female roles). For the eyes, Kunimasa used white pigment. Furthermore corners of eye are indigo blue and big. Thanks to this, the whiteness of the eyes is prominent. Youth shown on Kabuki stage was this what looking for newness publisher wanted. They was cooperating constantly.


[3:35~6:56]
Harunobu 春信

This is a nishikie(colour print). The representative one of Harunobu. Zashiki hakkei, nurioke no bosetsu. (eight picturesque sights, twilight snow on lacquered bucket). As every nishiki-e also this is full of delicate beauty. This print presents women picking cotton as the home industry. They are using lacquered bucket to stretch the cotton. Cotton on put on this bucket looks like a snow. Women painted by Harunobu looks lovely. As for characteristic of Harunobu, he was painting very delicate fingers.

Sanjuurokukasen, Ki no Tsurayuki (36 great poets, Ki no Tsurayuki). Women under the cherry blossoms. Theme of a Heian poem on the tree of Edo. We can see here elegance of the standing woman, who gaze at sakura and willowy silhouette of the one who is sweeping petals. Scenes presented by Harunobu were very often outings of people of Edo. 150 years had past from creating of the Edo Bakufu (military administration with Shogun as the ruler). The long peace let citizens of Edo create traditional forms of spending their spare time. This feeling of freedom can be easily seen in the Harunobu works.

Anya ume (Plum tree in the dark night). Trying various colors, Harunobu discovered that black suits the best for a dark(sounds obvious, but also dark blue and so on were being used). The night. Invited by a smell of the plum tree, girl is getting out on veranda. Suddenly a hem of her Kimono is being pulled up. Surprised, she lightening this place with her lantern and notice that it is her lover. This jet black dark seems to favor on young lovers' secret date.

Koto wo hiku musume (The girl playing on koto). Hironobu few times created prints that present small rooms with many objects. On the chigaidana(shoin dsukuri style shelf) we can see articles using for writing, in tokonoma are utensils for chadou(tea ceremony) and koto. All of those things were attributes of daughters born in good families. In the Harunobu works we can see life that common people of Edo thought as a ideal.


[6:57~9:55]
Hiroshige Utagawa 歌川広重

Wanted to became master of scenery painters, but his plane was thwarted by Hokusai. Works presented by Hiroshige in the opposition to Hokusai ones were: Toukaido gojuusantsugi (33 stations on the west track). Just like Hokusai, he could paint rain in the way that make viewer feels like traveler during a storm. The series of Toukaido gojuusantsugi was created on imperial order.

Shinakawa gotenyama. Hiroshige was trying to paint cherry blossoms of this place many times. However, only on this finished print soil is being exposed. Those are closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate. 3 years before publication of the eight picturesque sights of the famous places of Edo Perry started his invasion. Bakufu builded their fort in the trees of Shinakawa. That is the reason why this famous place doesn't exist nowadays.

Oohashi atake no yuudachi. Whole sky suddenly getting cloudy. Rain starting to fall. It seems like sound of drops of rain created of the light and shade of the ink can be heard.

Saruwakamachi yoru no kage. Street in Asakusa, here is the main building of Kabuki theater called silkworm basket(Sanza) of Edo. This is the night of the full moon, play just has ended. Plays was the greatest pleasure for common people. Shadow is gently falling to the feet of satisfied people walking on their way to home.

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