Japanese prints of the XVIII –XIX century from the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts






pictures of flowers and birds

Ukiyo-e are popular pictures of the everyday life of the urban class in the Edo period. Originally the word ukiyo was used to designate one of the Buddhist categories and could be translated as "world of misery" or "world of sorrow". At the end of the 17th century ukiyo came to mean the modern world, the world of earthly joys and pleasure. The creation of Japanese ukiyo-e prints reached its heyday at the end of the 18th century.

The kachō-ga genre (or "pictures of flowers and birds") made its way into Japanese art from the Chinese artistic tradition. Ukiyo-e artists, in their turn, studied works by masters of previous Japanese schools of art, such as the Kanō, Tosa, Maruyama and Rimpa schools. The "flowers and birds" genre was a sub-division, so to speak, of the landscape genre, on a smaller scale. The artists concerned depicted pairs of plants and living creatures: not only flowers and birds but various animals, insects, creatures of the sea and also diverse trees and grasses associated with specific seasons. The depictions of plants and animals in pairs were often accompanied by poems.

The "flowers and birds" genre was taken further at the end of the 18th century by Kitagawa Utamaro and the artists who created particularly vivid work in this genre in the 19th century were Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century the main proponent of this genre was Ohara Koson, who made skilful use of techniques used in European art.