Art & Design

Lecture - Japanese Prints during the Edo Period

1 February 2011, London

Japanese woodblock prints of the Edo period were the products of a highly commercialised and competitive publishing industry. Their content was inspired by the vibrant popular culture that flourished in Edo (Tokyo).  Japanese woodblock prints have long been appreciated in the West for their graphic qualities but their content has not always been fully understood. In recent years, publications by scholars in Japan, Europe and the United States have made possible a more subtle appreciation of the imagery encountered in them. Dr Ellis Tinios, Honorary Lecturer in History, University of Leeds, looks at the recent scholarship to explain how those who first purchased these prints would have read them.  His book, Japanese Prints: Ukiyo-e in Edo, 1700-1900 explores the prints in the context of their audience, considers the economic factors at play in print production and unfolds a new interpretation of the ways in which prints were used in society. 

Over the course of the Edo period, an extraordinarily large quantity of paintings, prints and illustrated books with sexual and erotic themes was produced in Japan. As urban culture expanded rapidly during the seventeenth century, erotic material became a major genre of woodblock print production.  Rosina Buckland, the author of Shunga: Erotic Art in Japan, and Curator of the Japanese collections in the Department of World Cultures, National Museum of Scotland, examines this previously underexplored area of Japanese art in her book, taking a fresh look at the centrality of eroticism in Edo urban culture through amusing scripts and fascinating images, including highlights from the collections of erotic Japanese art at the British Museum.

Dr Ellis Tinios is Honorary Lecturer in History, University of Leeds. His publications include extended entries in the catalogue Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints in the Anne van Biema Collection, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. in association with the University of Washington Press, Seattle (2002) and  'Pushing the Boundaries: Kuniyoshi and China' in Impressions: The Journal of the Japanese Art Society of America, Inc., No. 31 (2010), pp.88-99.

Dr Rosina Buckland is curator of the Japanese collections in the Department of World Cultures, National Museum of Scotland. Her primary interests are the art and culture of the late Edo period (1615-1868) and early Meiji era (1868-1912), with a focus on paintings and prints. She was a co-author of A Japanese Menagerie: Animal Pictures by Kawanabe Kyosai (BMP 2006). 

* The books will be available on the day at 15% off the retail price. 


Bookings will be available via our website from 23rd December at

1 February 2011, 4 - 5pm

Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13/14 Cornwall Terrace, London NW1 4QP UK

Tel: 020 7486 4348 Fax: 020 7486 2914

Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation