Fashioning Colours: News Perspectives on Japanese Woodblock Prints

Event - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 12 July, 2018
9:30am BST - 5:30pm BST

Sainsbury Institute, 64 The Close, Norwich NR1 4DH

About the Symposium

This symposium examines the transmedial relationship between Japanese prints, illustrated books and textiles through their shared interests in colours, including the production of colorants, colour printing technology and design patterns in Japan from the 18th to 19th centuries.

One critical concern for print designers, printers and dyers was how to produce subtle, beautiful, and enduring colours for their works. The material, labour and expertise invested in the making of colours not only contributed to a distinctive aesthetic quality of the prints and textiles but also the economic value of the products and the social status of the owners. Colour became one of the key elements to display one’s power, wealth and aspiration in changing fashion trends. This symposium will explore what colour and fashion meant for consumers in Japan.


Julie Nelson Davis (Professor, University of Pennsylvania)
Kayoko Fujita (Professor, Ritsumekan University)
Anna Jackson (Keeper of Asian Art, Victoria and Albert Museum) (discussant)
Jeannie Kenmotsu (Assistant Curator, Portland Art Museum)
Katō Yuriko (Director, Institute for Chiso Arts and Cultures, Kyoto)
Capucine Korenberg (Conservation Scientist, British Museum)
Marco Leona (Head of Scientific Research Department, Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Vivian Li (Associate Curator of Asian Art, Worcester Art Museum)
Henry Smith (Professor Emeritus of Japanese History, Columbia University)
Stephanie Su (Research Fellow, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures)
Ellis Tinios (Honorary Lecturer, University of Leeds)

Organised by Dr. Stephanie Su (Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow)

This event is organised in collaboration with the Worcester Art Museum with additional funding support from the Japan Foundation.


Programme PDF

Opening remarks by Simon Kaner

Session I: Making Colors: Pigments and Dyes

Ellis Tinios (Chair)

Capucine Korenberg
Hokusai’s Iconic Print Red Fuji and Its Variant Pink Fuji: Development of Methodology to Identify Which Impression was Printed First

Marco Leona
A timeline for the Introduction of Synthetic Dyestuffs in Japan During the late Edo and Meiji Periods

Henry Smith
Color on Paper, Color on Cloth: Rethinking the History of Printing in Japan

Session II: Perceiving Colours: Visuality of Illustrated Books

Henry Smith (Chair)

Julie Davis
Presenting the Yoshiwara in Monochrome and Full Color: The Annual Events of the ‘Azure Towers,’ Illustrated (Seirō ehon nenjū gyōji)

Ellis Tinios
The Splendor of Shunpon: Color and Design in Japanese Erotic Books

Jeannie Kenmotsu
Printing Painting in Sō Shiseki gafu

Session III: Fashioning Colors: Textiles and Designs

Anna Jackson (Chair)

Fujita Kayoko
The Hybridization of Japanese Textiles in Early Modern Globalization: Textile Imports, Consumer Culture, and the Domestication of the Exotics

Katō Yuriko
Chiso Yuzen: Reproduction of Furisode Kimono with Auspicious Noshi Bundles Design in Edo period

Vivian Li
Color Revolution: Fashion and the Floating World

Stephanie Su
Weaving Art and Science: Imao Keinen’s Bird and Flower Painting Manual as Design Pattern Book

The symposium will be held at the Sainsbury Institute, 64 The Close, Norwich NR1 4DH.

Roundtable Discussion chaired by Julie Davis

This event is organised in collaboration with the Worcester Art Museum with funding support from the Japan Foundation.


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