Over a hundred years ago, a Holland merchant was immediately captivated when he saw a beautiful figure printed on the wrapping paper of a Japanese porcelain ware for the first time. He soon began purchasing such pictures and exhibiting his collections on what became known as the ukiyo-e prints.
Ukiyo-e ― a Japanese term based on Buddhist thought that translates into "pictures of the floating world" ― was first made popular by artist Hishikawa Moronobu (菱川師宣) in the 1670s. His style thrived until the late 18th century with a multitude of schools popping up to highlight skills ranging from hand painting to nishiki-e (or brocade picture) finished with multi-colored woodblock printing. Beginning in the 19th century, Utagawa Toyokuni (歌川豐國) laid the foundation for the Utagawa School, which became one of the dominant schools of this art.
To introduce this art form to Taiwan, the National Museum of History and National Tsing Hua University have curated "Panorama of a Flourishing World: Ukiyo-e from the NMH Collection" to showcase over 40 pieces of ukiyo-e art from Utagawa School artists. These artworks reflect the intoxicatingly hedonistic lifestyle and mainstream aesthetics of the Edo period through everyday subjects that brim with rich flavor of life. The smooth and neat outlines and vivid colors were completed together by painters, engravers, and woodblock printers.
These artworks were donated by Goino Tadashi (五井野正), emeritus chairman of the Utagawa School, to the National Museum of History in 1998, at which time the chairman also donated 300-some pieces to four of Taiwan's universities, including Tsing Hua, to facilitate cultural exchanges and promote ukiyo-e art.
Behind this special exhibition, according to NMH, is the idea of drawing arts closer to communities and school campuses, thereby rooting arts in the lives of the general public.
‘Panorama of a Flourishing World: Ukiyo-e from the NMH Collection’