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Release: Jan. 14, 2000

UI Museum of Art will show Japanese prints from the Edo period (1615-1868)

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Cultural Pleasures and the Natural World: Japanese Prints from the Edo Period," an exhibition of two dozen prints from the permanent collection of the University of Iowa Museum of Art, will be on display from Saturday, Jan. 22 through April 16 in the museum's Works-on-Paper Gallery.

The Edo period (1615-1868), Japan's final epoch of feudalism, was a time of dramatic cultural development. The new wealth of the merchant class produced a rise in urban culture and growing devotion to the diversions of the arts such as literature and theater, and people bought prints and illustrated books for their own use at home.

Edo artists were usually employed by publishers. Stamps on their prints display the name of the artist as well as the name of the print shop, promoting additional sales.

The common people of the time solicited art that would reflect things of beauty and contemporary life. Popular genres included beautiful women and everyday activities. Landscapes and the varied moods of memorable places at different times were popular themes, and other prevalent subjects included the active pursuit and enjoyment of poetry, theater and music.

The exhibition presents prints depicting famous artists including poet Murasaki Shikibu, author of "The Tale of Genji," in a print by Chobunsai Eishi from 1801.

Other illustrations are from books, including "Twelve Practical Skills of Married Women" by Kitagawa Utamaro from about 1802. A group of landscapes by Ando (Utagawa) Hiroshige depict famous places around Japan from the book "One Hundred Famous Places in Edo" (about 1840). The exhibition will also include prints by Kunisada, Kuniyoshi and Utamaro, among others.

The museum's collection of Edo prints was started by a gift from Owen and Leone Elliott of Cedar Rapids, and it has recently been expanded through a gift from Janet Coquillette Wray.

The museum's curator of prints, drawings and photographs Kathleen Edwards was assisted in preparations for the exhibition by Christina Larson, a senior in the UI School of Art and Art History and an undergraduate research assistant at the museum.

For information on the UI Museum of Art, visit on the World Wide Web. Information is available on other UI arts events at

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots across from the museum on Riverside Drive and just north of the museum.