Faces of Beauty and Drama: 19th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints
Flourishing from the 17th century through the 19th century CE, Ukiyo-e, which translates to Images of the Floating World, depicts famous and beautiful figures that captured the imagination of the era. Among those portrayed were courtesans of the pleasure district, powerful sumo wrestlers, scenes from both folktales and history of brave heroes and monstrous youkai¸ and, above all, the actors of the kabuki stage.
With the perfected art of woodblock printing, artists could render beautifully detailed images on a large scale, making their art available to more than the highest echelon of society. Ukiyo-e allowed Japan’s middle and lower classes to see into the extravagant lifestyle of the rich and vicariously enjoy a world of theater, courtesans, and travel.