Masters of Japanese prints: Hokusai and Hiroshige landscapes

22 Sep 2018 – 6 Jan 2019

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Through a series of three exhibitions, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery is showcasing their collection of Japanese woodblock prints over the next year.


Bristol Museum & Art Gallery has a collection of some 500 ‘floating world pictures’ (ukiyo-e) which celebrate the pleasures of life in Japan. The collection ranks in the top five regional UK collections.

The first exhibition, 'Masters of Japanese prints: Hokusai and Hiroshige landscapes' will explore the radical developments in landscape prints made by two of Japan’s best-loved artists.

From the 1830s to the 1850s, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) developed a dynamic new genre of landscape prints that became hugely popular with their customers in Japan and later with western artists and collectors.

The exhibition will explore how Hokusai exploited a growing interest in Japanese landscape through his ground-breaking series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and how he experimented with newly available Prussian Blue dye to develop a striking new colour palette. The selection will include his iconic design The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

Encouraged by Hokusai’s success, Hiroshige developed his own landscape series including TheFifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road which portrayed views along the route between the cities of Kyoto and Edo (today’s Tokyo). Engaging scenes from this and other series will be included in the display.

The exhibit will highlight the ways in which both artists use innovative perspectives, changes in light and weather as well as human figures to involve viewers in the scenes.

Included in the display will be a set of prints showing the process of colour printing one of Hiroshige’s prints Shono – Sudden Rain from The Fifty-three stations of the Tokaido, newly commissioned from a traditional woodblock print workshop in Tokyo with funding from the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery.

This is the first of three exhibitions. Don’t miss the next exhibitions in the series:

Masters of Japanese prints: Life in the city
12 January – 12 May 2019

Masters of Japanese prints: Nature and seasons
18 May – 8 September 2019

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