223k Japanese woodblock images on Ukiyo-e.org

Ames Library readers may be interested to learn about Ukiyo-e.org, a digital collection of over 223,000 (and counting) Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Ukiyo-e is defined in The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms as

‘pictures of the floating world’ … referring to transient everyday life, [which provide] a major source of imagery in Japanese art from the 17th to the 19th centuries, particularly in the work of printmakers such as Hiroshige, Hokusai, and Utamaro. Typical subjects included theatre scenes, with actors in well-known roles, and views of the night-life of Edo (as Tokyo was then called). The resulting brightly coloured woodcut prints were imported into Europe from the middle of the 19th century and had a great influence on many avant-garde artists, including the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, who were particularly attracted by the bold compositions and striking colours of Ukiyo-e prints (M. Clarke and D. Clarke, “Ukiyo-e”).

According to Ukiyo-e.org’s About page, the website includes hundreds of thousands of images from 24 museum and art collections as well as the following features:

  • A database of Japanese woodblock print images and metadata aggregated from a variety of museums, universities, libraries, auction houses, and dealers around the world.
  • An indexed text search engine of all the metadata provided by the institutions about the prints.
  • An image search engine of all the images in the database, searchable by uploading an image of a print.
  • Each print image is analyzed and compared against all other print images in the database. Similar prints are displayed together for comparison and analysis.
  • Multiple copies of the same print are automatically lined up with each other and made viewable in a gallery for easy comparison.
  • The entire web site, and all artist information contained within it, is available in both English and Japanese, aiding international researchers (Ukiyo-e.org).

Ukiyo-e.org is definitely worth browsing and bookmarking!


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