Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection

Gallery: Masterful Illusions

Imagine a world of warriors and heroes, villains and ghosts, of kabuki actors and fashionable women wearing the latest styles, a world that celebrates the beauty of nature as well as the passions and sorrows of men and women.

Enter the world of Japanese prints, known as ukiyo-e, or pictures from the floating world, of theatres, teahouses, and the pleasure quarters of geishas and courtesans in the great cities of Edo (Tokyo), Osaka, and Kyoto.

Kabuki actors play a starring role in the collection. Their dazzling craft and lavish costumes were captured on woodblock prints for a thriving market driven by constant demand during the 18th and 19th centuries. Brimming with energy and artistic imagination, the prints are poetic and lyrical tributes to a vanished world.