Discover the brightly coloured actors from Japanese popular theatre depicted by woodblock print artists over the centuries.
The online version of the Yakusha-e: Kabuki Prints, a Continuing Tradition exhibition is now live, providing additional information about the works currently on display in the Ashmolean's Eastern Art Paintings Gallery, including zoom-able high-resolution images, detailed information about each art work, as well reproducing the descriptive labels from the exhibition
Kabuki, Japan’s popular theatre, has entertained audiences since the early 1600s. Leading kabuki actors became celebrities with massive fan clubs, and there was a huge demand for images of famous actors in their colourful costumes and dramatic make-up. These brightly-coloured woodblock prints of actors were known as ‘yakusha-e’. They often show actors striking an intense pose known as a ‘mie’.
This exhibition displays yakusha-e by 19th century print designers Utagawa Kunisada (1786 - 1864) and Toyohara Kunichika (1835 - 1900), alongside a recently-acquired group of woodblock prints by contemporary Japanese printmaker Tsuruya Kōkei (b. 1946).
After the physical display of this exhibition ends, the web-based version of the exhibition will remain online indefinitely, as an archived resource that can continue to be explored.see all news