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Japanese Prints (Midsize) - Gabriele Fahr-Becker

A very beautiful edition on good paper, with high quality prints. There is a crisp history of ukiyo-e by Mitsunobu Sato, a very poetic analysis of the aesthetics of ukiyo-e by Thomas Zacharias, then a more-or-less chronological selection of prints with excellent individual commentaries by Mitsunobu Sato, Yoshino Moriyama, Hideko Yamaguchi and Yuriko Iwakiri. Finally, there is a very clear and thorough glossary of the technical terms, and concise biographies of Ukiyo-e artists.

Zacharias' essay in particular helped me to look at the prints with a more informed eye, and to appreciate the sophistication and subtlety of the designs. I found I came to like the earlier, simpler, less highly coloured portraits and figures as much as the fabulous landscapes of Hiroshige et al, made when the medium had matured.