Lines of Descent: Masters and Students in the Utagawa School

This exhibition approaches the museum’s 2016–17 focus on the concept of time by tracing the
history of an important group of woodblock printmakers in Japan, the Utagawa school
(Utagawaha 歌川派). Founded in the Edo Period (1603–1868) by Utagawa Toyoharu, this lineage went on to produce some of the most celebrated print designers in Japanese art. The 52 prints on view include dynamic actor prints by Toyokuni and Kunisada, the renowned landscape prints of Hiroshige, the dramatic narratives of Kuniyoshi, and the creative and technical brilliance of Yoshitoshi. Utagawa works from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries demonstrate the links between master print designers and their students, who often became masters themselves, as well as how the Utagawa school adapted to meet the changing market during Japan’s rapid modernization in the Meiji Period (1868–1912).

This exhibition was curated by Kevin R.E. Greenwood, the Joan L. Danforth Curator of Asian Art.

Image: Utagawa Kunisada I
(Japanese, 1786–1865)
Memorial Portrait of Utagawa Hiroshige, 1858
Color woodblock print
Mary A. Ainsworth Bequest, 1950.779