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Japanese woodcuts


The Finnish National Gallery collections include some 900 Japanese woodcuts. Most of them are part of the Antell Collection, for which they were purchased in 1908 from Adolf Weigel's antiquarian shop in Leipzig. The intermediary was a French lecturer at the University of Helsinki, Jean Poirot, who asked the antiquarian to send a selection of ukiyo-e prints to Finland. The delivery included bundles and long rolls of woodcuts, over 650 works in all. The Antell committee bought them all for 1,581 marks. The works were deposited in the Ateneum Art Museum.

Most of the collection is theatrical woodcuts by Kunisada (Toyokuni III). They give a fairly good idea of the work of this incredibly productive woodcut artist. The museum published a scientific catalogue of its Kunisada collection in 1985. The woodcuts from Weigel also included works by Harunobu, Hiroshige, Hokusai, Toyokuni, and Utamaro.

The Japanese collection was only added to in 1994, when some forty theatrical woodcuts by the Osaka school were purchased from a private collection in Helsinki. Most of them are made by the most productive artist of the school, Hirosada. In 1998 the Japanese collector Tadashi Goino donated 150 woodcuts to the museum, among them several masterpieces.

The Japanese woodcuts were exhibited in Ateneum in 2000 in the exhibition The Scent of a Cherry Tree. It was accompanied by a publication on the woodcuts of the Japanese Edo period.

Artists featured in Ateneum's collection of Japanese woodcuts are Ashiyuki, Harunobu, Hirosada, Hiroshige, Hokusai, Kiyonagai, Kunisada, Kuniyoshi, Toyokuni I and Utamaro.

The Collections web service of the Finnish National Gallery provides basic information on the works in Ateneum's collection of Japanese woodcuts.