In celebration of Spring and the lovely cherry blossom trees that seem to be blooming all over town, it seems like the perfect time to share this lush archive of Japanese woodblock prints from the digital archive, Ukiyo-e.
The archive spans three centuries of traditional and contemporary Japanese woodblock prints, organized by time period, artist, and institution. The database is easy to navigate due to large thumbnail images of each print.
The Ukiyo-e archive maintains a database of over 213,000 prints from 24 different institutions. In addition to this, the site also features an image similarity analysis engine which compares prints of similar content and style. This engine recommends similar or different versions of a print that you might also be interested in. When looking through the archive, if an image has any corresponding similar prints, they show up as recommendations (see screen shot below):
The database highlights their depths of metadata, which has been aggregated from various museums, libraries, auction houses, and dealers. Furthermore, the database is searchable by both text and image, making searching for a specific print comparison incredibly easy! Finally, the entire database is available in both Japanese and English, an important detail that contributes to bridging a gap in the scholarship of Japanese Woodblock prints.
When performing a general search, the database is divided chronologically, making categorical separations roughly ever 30 years between Early Ukiyo-e (Early-Mid 1700s), and Modern and Contemporary prints (1950s to Now). This separation clearly shows the difference and shift in style, subject matter, and technological possibilities. If you can’t be outside in nature this week, take some time to explore these vibrant Japanese woodblock prints!