Landscape painting has a long tradition in East Asian art. However, landscape did not become an important feature of Japanese woodblock prints until the early 1800s. By this time, Japanese citizens were taking part in more outdoor sightseeing activities, such as temple visits and boat trips, and there was a growing demand for souvenir images. In the competitive world of the publishing industry, publishers were constantly trying to develop new products; landscape prints were an appealing novelty.
Technical factors also played an important part in the emergence of the landscape print. Particularly significant was the introduction of the new imported pigment Prussian Blue. Unlike earlier Japanese blues, which faded very quickly, this brilliant colour gave artists more freedom of expression, especially in the depiction of sky and water
Here we feature a selection of highlights from the master of landscape prints, Utagawa Hiroshige, as well as selected works by Hokusai and Kuniyoshi.