From sketch to Japanese woodblock print, Museum Volkenkunde Leiden

Friday 9 September 2022

From sketch to Japanese woodblock print, Museum Volkenkunde Leiden


From sketch to Japanese woodblock print, Museum Volkenkunde Leiden

In the depot of the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden we will explore the production process of Japanese woodblock prints and the techniques that are applied in that process. Curator Japan & Korea of the National Museum of World Cultures, Daan Kok, will lead us through this collaborative process that involves the artist, the blockcutter, the printer and the publisher, using objects from the collection of Museum Volkenkunde such as preparatory sketches by Hokusai, Kuniyoshi, Kunisada, and Kyōsai, sets of printing blocks, the tools to cut these, printing tools, and the final woodblock prints, all from the collection of Museum of Volkenkunde. 

Museum Volkenkunde keeps a unique collection of drawings and sketches by famous ukiyo-e print designers of the Edo and Meiji period such as Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Kawanabe Kyōsai, Katsushika Hokusai, and various others. Such a sizeable collection (c.4.000 items) of original manuscript works is very rare. The items in this collection range from very rough preliminary sketches to finely detailed drawings that constitute one of the last steps before publication in print. These works, being crafted by renowned designers of their time, show their supreme skill with brush and ink, the nuance of which is inevitably slightly lost in the process of reworking an original design into a woodblock print intended for mass production and consumption. The drawings also provide a unique insight into the daily practice of delivering illustrations for points and book illustrations, and the role of preparatory drawings in the training of pupils. 

This event presents a unique chance to gain more insight in the production of Japanese woodblock prints and to see objects from the collection that are rarely shown to the public. The event will take place in the storage of the museum, which is otherwise not accessible to the public. There is a maximum of only 15 places, so please sign up soon to be assured of a place.

When? 9 september 2022, 14.00 (sharp) - 16.00, followed by drinks in a venue near the museum

Where? Museum Volkenkunde, Steenstraat 1, 2312 BS Leiden

You can sign up by sending an email to the secretary (

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