Japanese Prints in the Anne Van Biema CollectionBook - 2002
Vivid portraits of Kabuki actors on and off stage, warriors, legendary heroes and heroines; depictions of courage, loyalty, romance, passion, ghosts, dreams, and the beauty of the natural world -- all are encompassed by the prints included in Masterful Illusions . The richly illustrated book includes essays by an international group of scholars that elucidate the historic, economic, and cultural environment of Edo period Japan.
Beginning in the early nineteenth century, European collections of Japanese prints were gathered and transported far from the vibrant urban centers of Edo period (1615-1868) Japan, and today foreign collectors continue to be fascinated by Japanese prints. The collection of Anne van Biema, one of few women to become a serious collector of Japanese prints, reveals her fascination with the vigorous imagery from the Kabuki theater in the urban metropolises of Edo (now Tokyo) and Osaka, in heroic feats from Japanese history and legend, magic, dreams, and the supernatural. A less numerous but important group of prints express the beauty of nature, landscape, and poetic themes. The collection is noteworthy for its inclusion of early Kabuki actor prints, substantial holdings of prints by the artists Toyokuni (1769-1825) and Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), and of Osaka actor prints. Among the works by Kuniyoshi is a complete set of his series of fantastic stories associated with the twelve animals of the annual cycle.