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Allen William Seaby and Ukiyo-e

Bullfinches, 1911, Allen W. Seaby, color woodcut on paper, 8 7/16 x 8 7/16 in


I have always loved the prints of Allen W. Seaby.

Best known as an ornithological painter and printmaker, Professor Allen W. Seaby was also a children’s author and illustrator. He was a student at Reading School of Art under Frank Morley Fletcher, where he developed a life-long passion for colour woodblock printing in the Japanese style.

(source Wikipedia)

Japanese Woodblock Reprint c. 1915
Bird with a Seed,
Series; Great Masters of Ukiyo-e (Mokuhan Ukiyoe Taika Gashu)

During the Edo Period (1615-1868), a uniquely Japanese art from developed known as ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the floating world." A Buddhist concept, ukiyo originally suggested the sadness (uki) of life (yo). But during the peace and prosperity of the 17th century, another ideograph, also pronounced uki but meaning "to float," emerged. Instead of connoting sadness, ukiyo came to be associated with the momentary, worldly pleasures of Japan's rising middle class. Unable to alter their social standing and regulated in nearly every aspect of their lives, from behavior and dress to the sizes of their houses, wealthy commoners found escape in licensed pleasure quarters and Kabuki theaters. There, they could watch handsome actors performing the latest plays or spend time with beautiful courtesans known for their sparkling wit, musical accomplishments, and poetry. (source: Fuji Arts)

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