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Basic information / Conservation and care / Ukiyo-e artists / Finding copies of your print / Databases / Japanese databases / Japanese illustrated books / Dealers of prints and paintings / Paintings / Thematic subjects
Basic information about Japanese woodblock prints
The website ‘Viewing Japanese Prints’ written and designed by our member John Fiorillo contains illustrated essays on the artists, designs, and techniques of traditional and modern Japanese prints. Highly recommanded.
The Irwin Lavenberg collection with over 2,400 pages related to Japanese prints, including images from his collection along with biographies of over 200 artists and various articles related to Japanese prints?
The website of David Bull, a present-day printmaker, contains an informative section on the technical aspects of printmaking. He has a studio in Asakusa, Tokyo, that welcomes visitors.
In November, 2013, Paul Binnie, a contemporary woodblock print artist presented at the Toledo Museum of Art an illustrated talk (1h 15 min) about the historical and technical aspects of woodblock printmaking in Japan. He also gave a live demonstration how a print is made. Highly recommanded.
Conservation and care of Japanese prints
The American Institute for Conservation and the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation offers a chapter on the the code of ethics and guidelines for practice setting forth the principles that guide conservation professionals and others who are involved in the care of cultural property.https://www.culturalheritage.org
There are also scholarly articles (pdfs) about proper care and handling of paper objects and about the matting and framing artifacts on paper.
On website ‘Viewing Japanese Prints’ there is a good section on ‘Care, repair and matting of Japanese Prints’.
The Chester Beatty library site contains some interesting chapters on the conservation and care of Japanese prints, focusing on surimono.
This site made by Thomas Crossland and Andreas Grund of Ukiyoe Gallery has an extensive page on the basics of matting and framing of Japanese prints.
Who is the artist that designed your print?
A database initiated by Alec Wood in 2019 containing a great number of signatures and seals of ukiyo-e artists.
Signatures & Biographies of Ukiyo-e Artists
The ‘Signatures of Ukiyo-e Artists’ page maintained by Hans Olof Johansson lists the most common kanji characters in ukiyo-e signatures, arranged alphabetically, according to their pronunciation.
The ‘Ukiyo-e Signatures’ page of Dieter Wanczura lists over 600 fascimile of Japanese woodblocks artist signatures and their seals.
John Fiorillo has on his website 'Viewing Japanese prints' informative biographies of 150 popular designers of woodblock prints.
How to find another copy of your Japanese print?
Ukiyo-e Search, maintained by John Resig, is a website that can find similar copies of your print among multiple collections of prints (over 220.000) published on the internet, by simply uploading a digital picture of your print. You can also search for prints related to a specific subjects such as Yoshitoshi, 1814, actor prints, etc.
Websites that have large searchable databases showing Japanese woodblock prints
- The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston maintains a huge searchable database with excellent illustrations and scholarly descriptions (in English and Japanese) of over 15,000 Japanese prints.
- The British Museum in London has a large searchable database with excellent illustrations and basic information (in English and Japanese) of over 1,300 ukiyo-e.
- The Victoria & Albert Museum in London houses a great many Japanese woodblock prints.
- The Metropolitan Museum in New York has a database with over 4,300 Japanese prints provided with basic information. Many are in the public domain, so you can download and use the prints without asking permission.
- Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, houses a large collection of Japanese prints, numbering over 3,000 works.
- National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, Netherlands. Database with short descriptions in Dutch of more than 10,000 Japanese paintings, prints and drawings.
To handle these databases you need some basic understanding of Japanese characters to insert search terms.
- Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University, Tokyo. A rather slow database with imagines of about 46,000 prints with descriptions. Focus on theatre prints. Output partly in English
- Hankyu Culture Foundation. The database of the Ikeda Bunko Library ukiyo-e collection with about 30,000 good imagines. Strong on Osaka prints.
- Art Research Centre of the Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto. A database with about 12,000 good imagines of ukiyo-e with scholarly descriptions. Menu in English available.
- Tokyo Metropolitan Library. An image database with more than 8,000 prints and descriptions.
- National Diet Library, Tokyo. A database with many good imagines of Japanese prints, a.o. several complete series. Menu in English available.
- The Hagi Uragami Museum, Hagi, Yamaguchi, preserves the collection of Toshiro Uragami which includes about 5,300 ukiyo-e works.
- National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, Netherlands. A database with over 5000 Japanese woodblock prints and almost 4000 sketches and drawings.
Websites focusing on specific woodblock print artists or schools
Hokusai / Kunisada / Hiroshige / Kuniyoshi / Kunichika / Chikanobu / Yoshitoshi / Gekkô / Koitsu / Hiroshige II / Kokei
- The Hokusai Museum, established in 1976 to conserve valuable works made by Hokusai, focuses on brush paintings, ceiling works, book illustrations, and other information related to Hokusai.
- The Hagi Uragami Museum showing many albums illustrated by Hokusai. Text in Japanese only.
- 24 Views of Mount Fuji, Tim Eagen presents all twenty-four prints of the series, along with the titles, headings, excerpts from the story, links to larger scale imagery and, in some cases, poetry selected to go with the images.
- Banmotsu ehon daizen zu, over 100 newly-rediscovered drawings by Hokusai acquired by the British Museum.
- Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave, a video talk by Tim Clark, the former head of the Japanese section at the British Museum, on the occasion of the Hokusai exhibition organized in 2017. This film explores the legacy and impact of his most iconic image, the Great Wave, and asks why it has such appeal (3 min).
- Katsushika Hokusai Old Man Crazy to Paint, BBC Documentary on Hokusai, 2017 (58 min).
- Hokusai: The End of an Era, a video talk by Sarah Thompson, assistant curator, Japanese Prints at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Hokusai died in 1849, just four years before the opening of Japanese ports to the West dramatically altered Japanese culture. Sarah discusses how Hokusai’s art perspicaciously hinted of things to come, including a fascination with technology, curiosity about the outside world, and growing sense of Japan as a nation (1h 23 min).
- Catalogue Raisonné of the Single-Sheet Colour Woodblock Prints of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) by Roger Keyes (1942-2020) and Peter Morse (1935-1993), compiled 1972-2007.
- The Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) – Project, maintained by our member Horst Graebner. His site displays about 4,500 designs, many arranged by series. There is also a lot of other useful information on the artist, such as signatures and seals, kabuki plays and actors portrayed, and an extensive list of references.
- On the Japanese Woodblock Print Search site of John Resig you will find over 40,000 references to prints designed by Kunisada with links to the original source of publication. Upload your own Kunisada print to find other copies.
- On Fitzwilliam Museum Kunisada and Kabuki site you will find an introduction, a virtual gallery with 100 designs or you can explore prints of Kunisada arranged by theme.
- The Woodblock Prints of Andô Hiroshige, a site maintained by William Pearl and John Roden, showing images of Hiroshige’s series, diptychs, triptychs, books and other works. In addition there is more useful information available, such as several articles about the artist and a bibliography.
- Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, an online presentation of all designs with short descriptions of this popular series from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.
- From the collection of the Smithsonian Libraries in Washington, an online presentation of all pages from 15 albums designed by Hiroshige.
- In the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston you will find about 850 designs by Kunichika with scholarly descriptions.
- In the collection of the British Museum you will find 65 high resolution images of works by Kunichika with scholarly descriptions.
- Kunichika, a website under construction, hosted by the Toshidama Gallery.
- 25 prints designed by Kunichika in the Collection of the Van Gogh Museum.
- An album with 32 actor prints designed by Kunichika (Brian P. Coppola collection).
- Life and work of Toyohara Kunichika
Shaping the present, crafting the past: imaging self-narrative in the life and work of Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900), a doctoral thesis (2016) by Amy Reigle Newland.
- Toyohara Kunichika
Eine Untersuchung seiner Meiji-zeitlichen Farbholzschnitte unter besonderer Betrachtung der Rezeption von bunmei kaika (Zivilisation und Aufklärung), a doctoral thesis (2006) by Monika Hinkel (in German).
- On the Japanese Woodblock Print Search site of John Resig you will find over 13,000 references to prints designed by Kunichika with links to the original source of publication. Upload your own Kunichika print to find other copies
A site hosted by Gary Gross with images of several series designed by Chikanobu and additional information on e.g. signatures, publishers, and a bibliography.
- Catalogue Raisonné of the works designed by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, hosted by Noel Chiappa and Jason M Levine
- Ogata Gekkô Meji Master
A site hosted by David Humphries, providing a wide range of resources, including a biography, a catalogue raisonne and other information about his work, including a listing of his signatures and seals.
- A video interview conducted by Prof. Kendall Brown and Kiyomi Fuki with the contemporary Japanese print artist Tsuruya Kokei (1946-present). This interview gives you a unique and insightful picture of the artist's working methods, motives and preferences. USC Pacific Asia museum, March 2019 (ca 25 min).
- The complete works of Tsuruya Kôkei. All his prints illustrated and provided with detailed descriptions in Japanese and English.
Websites of dealers offering Japanese prints and paintings for sale
The dealers of websites marked with an * are members of our Society
- * Gordon Friese, Antiquariat Mephisto, Unna
- * Kotobuki GmbH and "le cabinet japonais", Munich (incl. archive, last update 2016)
- * Monika Schmidt, Galerie Japankunst, Munich (incl. archive)
- Michael Thun, Gallery Inkstone, Hannover
- * Rolf Degener, Japanese Fine Prints, Düsseldorf
- * Hans-Martin Schmitz, Alte Kunst aus Japan und China, Cologne
- * Ukiyo-e-Gallery Hannspeter Kunz, Sigmaringen (incl. archive)
- Allinson Gallery, Storrs, Connecticut
- Ippodo Gallery, New York City, New York (contemporary paintings)
- * Sebastian Izzard Asian Art, New York City, New York
- * Joan B Mirviss, New York City, New York
- * Ronin Gallery, New York City, New York
- * Scholten Japanese Art, New York City, New York
- The Toman Collection, New York City, New York (contemporary prints)
- Things Japanese, Chappaqua, New York
- Edo Gallery, Fairport, New York
- Merlin C. Dailey & Associates, Victor, New York
- Gilbert Luber Gallery, Philadephia, Pennsylvania
- Verne Collection, Cleveland, Ohio (focus on 20th century, incl. archive)
- Shogun Gallery, Falls Church, Virginia
- Randall Antiques & Fine Art, Gainesville, Florida
- * Fuji Arts Japanese Prints (Bid or Buy)
- * Floating World Gallery, Chicago, Illinois (focus on 20th century)
- CJP Prints & Lifestyle, Wilmette, Illinois (Shin Hanga, Sosaku hanga & instructive video's)
- * Martin Bronstein, Japan Prints, Tumacacori, Arizona (focus on 20th century prints)
- Petrie Rogers, Asian Fine Art, Tucson, Arizona
- Rosensteel Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona
- Ukiyo-e Gallery, Salem, Oregon (focus on Shin Hanga)
- White Lotus Gallery, Eugene, Oregon
- John Adams Japanese Woodblock Prints, Santa Rosa, California
- * The Art of Japan, Issaquah, Washington (incl. an archive)
- Shotei Gallery, Vancouver, Washington (focus on Shin Hanga)
- Crosseyed Gallery, Los Angeles, California
- * Arts and Designs of Japan, San Francisco, California (incl. archive)
- Castle Fine Arts, Sacramento, California (incl. archive)
- eBay Inc, San Jose, California (buy, bid or offer, mixed quality)
- eBay, Ukiyoeboys (buy or best offer, mixed quality)
- * Herbert Egenolf Gallery, Burbank, California
- Scriptum, Berkeley, California
- Woodblock Prints World, Carmichael, California (focus on Shin Hanga)
Japan (websites partly in English)
- Ebisodo Gallery, Tokyo
- Fifty-gallery, Tokyo
- * Hara Shobo, Tokyo (with e-catalogues)
- Gallery Soumei-do, Tokyo
- * Mita Arts Gallery, Tokyo (with e-catalogue)
- Mizu-hanga, Tokyo (with pdf catalogues)
- * Sobi Pallas, Tokyo
- Shukado Ukiyoe Gallery, Tokyo
- The Tolman Collection, Tokyo (contemporary prints)
- S. Watanabe Woodblock Prints, Tokyo
- Toshusai, Tokyo
- Yamada Shoten, Tokyo (with pdf catalogues)
- Yamaboshi Shoten, Nagoya
- Ohmi Gallery, near Otsu (focus on Shin Hanga)
- Arts & Crafts Yokoyama Art, Kyoto
- Ezoshi, Kyoto
- Gallery Sobian, Kyoto
- Nishiharu, Kyoto
- Yoshikiri, Kyoto (incl. archive)
- * OsakaPrints.com, Osaka (incl. archive)
- * Artelino, Langen, Germany (weekly auctions)
- Catawiki, Japanese Art, Assen, The Netherlands (mixed quality)
- eBay, Utagawa123, San Jose, California (Japanese picture albums)
- Liveauctioneers, Ukiyoe Gallery, Augusta , CA, USA
Japanese illustrated books
- Japanese Illustrated Books from the Edo and Meiji Periods, showing over 1,000 volumes previously owned by Charles Lang Freer or Gerhard Pulverer. Among them many rare illustrated books by famous artists such as Andô Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai.
- A Smash Hit for the Local Book Trade. This is a very funny video about a kibyoshi (illustrated storybook with a yellow cover) titled Atariyashita Jihon Doiya written by Jippensha Ikku the famous author of Tōkaidōchū hizakurige (Shank's Mare), a best selling book in the Edo period. From this parody, you can see how books were made and sold at that time. This video has been made by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 2017.
Musings by Moonlight: The Moon from Japanese Art to Japonism
This virtual exhibition brings together Japanese prints and the Western works of Japonism in the Zimmerli Art Museum collection to explore the diverse expressions of “moon” in Japanese and Western art of the late-nineteenth to early-twentieth century. Rutgers, The State University of New Yersey, 2020, Organized by the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, and students in the Fall 2020 course, 'From Text to Image in Japanese Art', with Nicole Simpson, Assistant Curator of Prints & Drawings. Read more …
If you have a special interest in Japanese paintings we can recommand the following websites:
- The Gitter-Yelen Art Study Center. The Manyo'an Collection of Japanese Art focuses on Edo-period (1615–1868) works in the Zenga, Nanga, Rinpa, Maruyama-Shijo, Ukiyoe, and Eccentric styles with an increasing focus on 20th century paintings and ceramics.
- The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection of Japanese paintings and calligraphy at the Freer Gallery of Art consists of 260 works. It consists of early modern literati paintings and calligraphy from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth century, as well as modern paintings and calligraphy from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries.
- Oranda jin, a website of our member Jon de Jong contains an extensive archive on Japanese paintings with scholarly descriptions and detailed information on artists and painting styles. It also shows a video how to knot a painting.
Netsuke, inro, ojime, sagemono
International Netsuke Society
The official web site of the International Netsuke Society, devoted to the study and appreciation of netsuke and its related art forms (inro, ojime, sagemono). They issue a quarterly journal for members (Membership fee $125 for one year). See also their list of netsuke dealers.
The Cohen Collection
A private collection with many colour photos of netsuke, ojime and lacquer inro with scholarly descriptions. Full access for a one time payment of $25.
A very informative site in English and Japanese about netsuke.
* Netsuke: Japanese Art in Miniature
A selection of netsuke from the Fitzwilliam museum.