The style of the Japanese paintings that were produced by woodblock prints that was most popular between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries was called Ukiyo-e, a.k.a, (floating world). Ukiyo-e wasn’t the only style but it was the most prevalent of them all. Because of the popularity of these prints… they were sold in the small town shops and on the streets going at the minimum of the price of a bowl of noodles. These prints were bought by the elite and collected in albums or glued to their walls. The only participation the Ukiyo-e artist had in the production of their prints was painting them and selling the prints to publishers who reproduced them.
The Ukiyo-e prints subjects featured landscape, theater, Bijin-ga (images of beauties), pleasure quarters, and history motifs. The landscapes prints were of natural scenery and not narrative content. These were the hallmark of the high art of the 17th century but eventually things changed. They were no longer restricted to the upper levels of civilization. The prints eventually became a part of the prevalent art realm. Another subject is the Bijin-ga (images of beauties). These paintings involved the actual fashionable and notable women or idealized type of gorgeousness specific to a certain time or area. Eventually, these prints were censored because of fear of corrupting the morals of Japan’s citizens. This allowed for the emerging of domestic images of women and their children and/or women with servants, and the latest fashions to keep up with the demands. Lastly, the most famous of them all is the pleasure quarters and the Kabuki Theater. Jointly, they both enticed wealthy clienteles enthusiastic about acquiring the vivid images of notable actors and exquisite courtesans created by the Ukiyo-e artists.
Kleiner, Fred. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, Non-Western Perspectives, 13th ed., Chapter 6 – Japan...