of the Ukiyo-e School
OF all the Japanese landscapes the most famous in the West are those of the masters of the Ukiyo-e School, especially of Hokusai and Hiroshige. In fact, for many years Japanese art was known chiefly through these artists, whose colored wood blocks have been sought by eager European and American collectors ever since they first attained general recognition at the London Exhibition of 1862 and the Paris Exposition of 1867. For a time Japanese critics tended to play down their importance in reaction to the Westerners' overestimation of them, but today there is a more balanced view of their value. As a result the Japanese themselves have come to admire and collect these masters of the woodcut, while the Westerners have learned that this last offshoot of the great artistic tradition of Japan was by no means the only contribution which the Japanese made to world art.
Ukiyo-e artists had originally portrayed the life of the gay quarters of Edo, the Yoshiwara district, painting famous beauties, geisha houses, Kabuki actors, and other phases of popular life, and it was only under the influence of Katsushika Hokusai ( 1760-1849) that landscape became a major subject for the artists of this school. Trained in the traditional Ukiyo-e manner by