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Ukiyo-e pictures were produced by artists during the Edo period (1603-1868) and depicted scenes from everyday life.
The main themes were diverse, ranging from the daily customs of the townsfolk, to landscapes, to portraits.
They provide a valuable resource for the study of social customs or history, presenting humorous views of the easygoing lives of the Edo-period people.
The term ukiyo-e is applied to both handpainted and woodblock print works, but it was the colored prints, known as nishiki-e, that initially found their way to France where they were to have a powerful influence on the members of the Impressionist move-ment.
These prints, which utilize between 10 to 20 colors, caught the imaginations of numerous Western artists.
For instance, if we look closely at VanGogh's Portrait of Pere Tanguy, we see that the pictures hanging in the background are all ukiyo-e.
It is said that many musicians were also influenced by ukiyo-e.
Although artistically, these works are all of a very high quality, they were employed for the most mundane purposes, such as calendars or newspaper illustrations.
From this, we can see that during the Edo period, a highly refined art culture formed part of everyday life in Japan.