January 22–June 6, 2011

Flowers and Festivals

Four Seasons in Japanese Prints

Love of nature and awareness of the changing seasons, longstanding motifs in the literary and visual arts of Japan, often appear in the ukiyo-e woodblock prints that chronicle the life of the urban middle class during the Edo period (1615-1867). As Japan gradually developed the characteristics of an early modern society (just as Europe was doing at around the same time), gardening became a pleasure not merely limited to the aristocracy but enjoyed by commoners as well. Citizens of Edo (modern Tokyo) could raise potted plants and miniature gardens at home, and visit public gardens and commercial nurseries. Throughout the year, holidays were celebrated with floral decorations and traditional customs that have been handed down to the present day.


With generous support from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Exhibition Fund.