Edo in Colour
Featuring one hundred prints and printed books from the Chester Beatty’s renowned collections of Japanese art, Edo in Colour explores how woodblock prints shaped a city’s identity as they crafted its image.
Bursting into life as capital of Japan’s ruling shogunate, by the mid-18th century the population of Edo (modern Tokyo) had grown to over one million.
From buskers and teahouse beauties to actors, entertainers, prostitutes and star-crossed lovers, the people of downtown Edo became celebrities of this new metropolis, their image captured in vibrant woodblock prints.
Woodblock prints were an affordable art, printed by the thousand and consumed as fast as fashion demanded. They are also aesthetically rich and technically accomplished. As illustrious artists and shrewd publishers battled for market share, they constructed the city anew on paper.