Japanese Woodblock Prints
Japanese woodcut prints are categorized by subject: Scenes of everyday life, actors, and famous places. The majority of Japanese prints found are 19th century. Usually they are single prints, but occasionally you see series of two, three and sometimes more joined together to make a panel scene.
Condition is important to Japanese print collectors. Folds, tears, worm holes and sun bleaching of the delicate natural dye inks hurt the value. The earliest ones are in black and white. Japanese woodblock prints were very popular among collectors in the 19th century. The two most famous collectors of them were Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh even copied them in oil paint.
There were hundreds of artists in the period who applied the ink to the woodblocks with brushes and even with their thumb. Some Japanese woodblock prints even have mica applied to the background. These are very rare.
The prints that bring the highest prices are Geisha women portraits and colorful landscapes.
Some of the most popular Japanese prints are by such artists as Hiroshige, Hokusai, Kunisada, Kuniyoshi, Sharaku, Toyokuni, Eizan and Utamaro. Hiroshige is everyone’s favorite and in the greatest demand. He is often called the Rembrandt of Japan.
Japanese woodblocks often have gone thru many editions as they are printed, re-cut and printed again. Discriminating collectors naturally want the earliest editions, before the thin woodblock lines break down.
There was even a revival of Japanese woodblock prints in the 1920’s-1930’s. Many of these artists bring excellent prices.
We’ve been appraising fine Japanese woodcut prints for over 46 years. We can explain this complicated field in simple terms, so you know exactly what you own. Appraisals for insurance and resale are our specialty.
Why not give us a call and we’ll be glad to discuss seeing your Japanese woodcut prints in person or doing an appraisal of them from photos. There is no charge if your item is valueless.