Dominant art movement of the Edo culture in Japan. Screen paintings were the first works to be done in the style, which depicted aspects of the entertainment quarters (“floating world”) of Edo (modern Tokyo) and other cities. Ukiyo-e artists switched their focus to wood-block prints, which were mass-produced for an eager public. Favourite ukiyo-e subjects included famous courtesans and prostitutes, kabuki actors in famous roles, and erotica; they were executed in flat, decorative colours and expressive patterns. Hishikawa Moronobu is generally accredited as the first master of ukiyo-e. The transition from single- to two-colour prints was made by Okumura Masanobu; in 1765 polychrome prints using numerous blocks were introduced by Suzuki Harunobu. The essence of the ukiyo-e style was embodied in the works of Utamaro, Hokusai, and Hiroshige. The prints attracted much attention in Europe in the 19th century and had a great influence on avant-garde French artists such as the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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