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A definition of the idea of ukiyo-e follows:

.living just for the moment, focusing on the pleasure given by the moon, the snow, cherry blossoms, maple leaves, singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves by just floating, floating,refusing to be disheartened, floating like a gourd that drifts along with the river- this is what we call ukiyo

The art of ukiyo-e ("pictures of the floating world"), originated in the metropolitan culture of Edo (Tokyo) during a period of Japanese history when political and military power was in the hands of the shoguns and the country was virtually isolated from the rest of the world. It is largely an urban art, closely connected with sophisticated city pleasures: theatres, restaurants, tea houses, geisha. Like some of Toulouse Lautrec's work, many ukiyo-e prints were in fact posters. They might advertise brothels or theatrical productions, or they could be portraits of popular actors and actresses. And some, notably the prints of landscapes by Hiroshige and Hokusai, had an enormous impact on many French painters of the early part of the last century.

Pictures of women and prints about them covered the fashionable beauties of the geisha trade, women in a variety of domestic roles, women used to display and flaunt the gorgeous fabrics of their clothing and women in strange poses illustrating ideas of feminine beauty. Characteristics of the beautiful woman included a long and elegant neck, an S-shaped body posture and a generally submissive pose. In some cass they were exactly analogous to today's super-models, clothes-horses for the display of beautiful fabrics. These prints were used by the vendors of fabrics to advertise their wares much as a modern vendor would pay Vogue to display his advertisements.







Utamaro Woodblock

Utamaro
Yamauba in Kintaro
Size: 10" x 14"

From the Robert Muller Collection

$385.00
Utamaro Woodblock

Utamaro
Beauties and Kitten
Size: 10.125" x 15.125"

From the Robert Muller Collection

$350.00
Utamaro Woodblock

Utamaro

Benkei and the Salamanda

Size: 14.78" x 10"

From the Robert Muller Collection

$295.00