The Actors Image: The Japan-Virginia Society Collection of Ukiyo-e Prints

The Actor's Image
Actor Bando Hikosaburo V as Tonase, a retainer's wife, and Actor Sawamura Totsusho II as Tonase's daughter Konami in Act VIII of Treasury of the Loyal Retainers
Publication date: 1862
by Utagawa Kuniaki (1835-1888)
From the C. Coleman McGhee Collection of Ukiyo-e Prints, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts 
February 7, 2003 - April 18, 2003 

The Esther Thomas Atkinson Museum of Hampden-Sydney College is proud to present, "The Actors Image: The Japan-Virginia Society Collection of Ukiyo-e Prints," an exhibition of woodblock prints created in 19th century Japan. Featuring Kabuki theatre and its famous actors, these prints offer a rich array of compelling images that invite viewers into the lively and fascinating world of Japanese art and theatre. 

The exhibition of prints opens on Friday, February 7, 2003, at 4 p.m. with a gallery lecture, "Kabuki and the Woodblock Print" by Matthew R. Dubroff, Lecturer in Fine Arts at Hampden-Sydney College. A reception will follow. The exhibit will be on display through April 18, 2003. 

Kabuki first appeared in Japan during the late 1500's. Based on traditional tales of tragedy, romance, and honorable behavior, Kabuki performances found a second vehicle for expression in the exquisite ukiyo-e paintings and prints of the Japanese Edo period (1615-1868). 

THE ACTORS IMAGE: THE JAPAN-VIRGINIA SOCIETY COLLECTION OF UKIYO-E PRINTS
Organized and circulated by the Statewide Exhibitions Program, Office of Statewide Partnerships, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts 

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7 - APRIL 18, 2003 

Friday, February 7, 2003
Pre-Opening Gallery Lecture 
"Kabuki and the Woodblock Print"
by Matthew R. Dubroff, Lecturer in Fine Arts, Hampden-Sydney College
4:00 p.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Atkinson Museum
Reception afterwards

Thursday, April 17, 2003
Slide Lecture 
"A Boat Upon the Waters: Tradition and Change in Japanese Art"
by Shawn Eichman, 
Curator of East Asian Art
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 
Richmond, VA
4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Chairman's Room, Settle Hall
Reception afterwards in 
  Atkinson Museum

Friday, April 11, 2003
Demonstration
"Make-up Techniques of Kabuki"
by Matthew R. Dubroff, Lecturer in Fine Arts, Hampden-Sydney College
4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Atkinson Museum
Ukiyo-e woodblock prints celebrated the colorful, sensual, exciting, and extravagant urban lifestyles of Japan's Edo period. Of great interest to artists of the time were the outstanding Kabuki plays and performers who captivated the public imagination. Portrait prints of famous actors were published to promote Kabuki performances and were sold as souvenirs. These prints were in high demand and were such a pervasive presence in Japanese popular culture, they even influenced contemporary fashions and lifestyles. 

"These prints are alive with drama, vibrant with color, and intense with emotion. They have inspired artists from the Impressionists to modern-day masters, and continue to enchant viewers today," says Eileen Mott, Statewide Exhibition Coordinator for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. 

The ukiyo-e prints in the exhibition were all made by artists of the Utagawa school and date from approximately 1820 to 1865. Many are by the renowned artist Utagawa Tokoyuni III. They were presented to the Japan-Virginia Society by the Utagawaha Monjinkai, a group that supports the artists and programs of the Utagawa School. 

The Council of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Toshiba International Foundation, and The Ruth Camp Campbell Foundation generously provided funding for this exhibition. Other contributors include Vie de France Yamazaki, Inc.; Sumimoto Machinery Corporation of America; Opton, Inc; Wako Chemicals USA, Inc.; and Dynax American Corporation. 

"The Actors Image" is one of many exhibitions that are circulated through the Statewide Exhibitions Program, Office of Statewide Partnerships, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The Esther Thomas Atkinson Museum is located on College Road, Hampden-Sydney, Virginia, and is accessible to the handicapped. Hours: Tuesday - Friday, 12:30p.m. - 4:30p.m., and other times by appointment. For more information on this exhibition and other programs, please contact Lorie Mastemaker at 434-223-6134.