Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and many of the French Impressionists were obsessed with Japanese woodblock prints, collecting them and adapting their features into their works.
These prints flooded into Paris soon after Japan opened to foreign trade, and thanks to their unique perspective systems and dynamic use of pattern and color, these prints forever changed the way French and American artists looked at the world.
Inspiring Impressionism is on view inside The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec. This companion exhibition features dozens of important Japanese woodblock prints from the Chrysler Collection dating from the 1700s and 1800s.
Of historical note is the mission that reopened Japan to foreign trade, the expedition of American Commodore Matthew Perry. It left Hampton Roads in November 1854 and the arrival in Edo (Tokyo) the following July was documented by Japanese artist Hibata Osuke. The Chrysler is privileged to own a rare copy of his images of Perry and his squadron, the first foreigners seen in Edo in more than 200 years.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks: 1680 - 1900 provides a detailed survey of all the famous ukiyo-e artists, along with over 500 full color prints. Japanese woodblock prints, or ukiyo-e, are the most recognizable Japanese art form. Their massive popularity has spread from Japan to be embraced by a worldwide audience. This lavishly illustrated volume covers the period from the beginning of the Japanese woodblock print in the 1680s until the year 1900. Unlike previous examinations of this art form, Japanese Woodblock Prints includes detailed histories of the publishers of woodblock prints—who were often the driving force determining which prints, and therefore which artists, would make it into mass circulation for a chance at critical and popular success. Invaluable as a guide for ukiyo-e enthusiasts looking for detailed information about their favorite Japanese woodblock print artists and prints, it is also an ideal introduction for newcomers to the world of the woodblock print.