The Western taste for Japanese prints



Storia dell’arte n. 27, Maggio – Agosto 1976
Dedicato alla grafica giapponese

Jack Hillier

The Western taste for Japanese prints

It is generally belived that it was not until the 1860s that Japanese prints reached Europe, and, certainly, it was only from that time onwards that they were collected and began to exercise an influence upon western art. But in fact, Japanese prints had been brought back well before that date, but went more or less unnoticed. Isaac Titsingh, who died in 1812, had served as head of the Dutch settlement in Deshima between 1779 and 1785, and the inventory of his estate listed “engravings printed in colour, 10 inches by 15, representing Japanese ladies in varied dresses”. They may well have included prints such as typical courtesans by Koryusai and Kiyonaga; or the delightful scene of a pleasure boat on the Sumida, the right-hand sheet of a famous diptych by Utamaro in the British Museum and reproduced here.

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