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Spring/Summer 2023 Exhibition

Japanese Woodblock Prints: Edo and Meiji Periods

postcard for exhibition with Rest stop 26 from Tokaido road series by Hiroshige

This exhibit on display in the University Art Gallery at Saginaw Valley State University is a collection of Japanese woodblock prints of the Edo and Meiji periods donated by Dr. Louis W. Doll, to the University Art Gallery. 

The woodblock print became a major medium of artistic expression in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1867). This was an age of unprecedented peace which saw the growth of a prosperous class of merchants and craftsmen.  Unable to acquire significant political or social prestige within the rigid feudal system, this new merchant class devoted itself to the enjoyment of the present.  It helped create an urban society which thrived on entertainment and extravagance.  Woodblock prints produced in large editions supplied this new middle class with images that would record the pleasures and beauty of life in the Tokugawa capital city of Edo.

The Meiji era (1868-1912), a period of rapid modernization in Japan, saw a great change in both subjects and style of woodblock prints.  Artists incorporated Western techniques of chiaroscuro and linear perspective.  Japanese in Western dress, military and political events as well as scenes containing carriages and railroads became common imagery.  With the introduction of aniline dyes intensely bright red, green and purple replaced the more subtle natural pigments.  Although the Meiji period has been considered a time of decline for woodblock prints, many interesting editions were produced combining elements of both Japanese and Western art. 

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UAG Coordinator

Department of Art

Shaun Bangert, Chair


University Art Gallery
Arbury Fine Arts Center
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