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The Great Wave off Kanawaga, Hokusai, by unknown Japanese copyists after Katsushika Hokusai Enlarge

The Great Wave off Kanawaga
(Hokusai, 1831, Public domain)


The Ukiyo-e artistic movement appeared in Japan as of the 17th century, during the Edo era (1603-1868). The term "Ukiyo-e" means "pictures of the floating world", an expression alluding to difficult, transitory nature of human life from which the Buddhists wished to withdraw.

If it's also a painting school, Ukiyo-e incarnates above all the art of the Japanese print. Portraits of traditional kabuki theater actors and women made the school famous. After a decline commencing at the turn of the 19th century, the movement enjoyed renewal as of 1820, thanks to landscapes and the contribution of artists such as Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige.

Landscape prints were in high demand as they represent recognizable places in Japan. The discovery of the techniques of perspective, a method imported from the West, blended into Eastern tradition, and equally played a considerable role in the interest of the Japanese in landscapes.

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