About Edo Pop: Japanese Prints 1825 - 1895

19 March - 6 October 2024

Travel to the bustling metropolis of Edo through 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints. Discover the dynamic history of Edo (1604-1868), modern day Tokyo, a thriving hub that flourished during a time of seclusion and tranquillity.

Focusing on the period 1825 – 1895, this will be the first public display for a number of these works, which were hugely popular in 19th century Japan and also in Europe, where prints were collected by artists including Rossetti, Whistler, Van Gogh and Monet.

From domestic scenes to the entertainment district (Yoshiwara), be immersed in the captivating world of Ukiyo-e, the intricate Japanese woodblock prints that portray the characters and daily lives of Edo's locals. Initially commissioned as a commercial art form by renowned personas like kabuki actors, geishas, and courtesans, these prints served as a favoured means of entertainment before the dawn of photography in the late 1800s. Meticulously handcrafted, these prints were adored by the residents of Edo, as acquiring one was as simple and affordable as a bowl of noodles.

Generously loaned by Frank Milner, art historian and writer.

Exhibition partners

We are delighted to be partnering with ROSA Magazine, Little Greene, Silent Pool Gin and The Ivy Asia, Guildford for this exhibition.

Exhibition highlights

Utagawa Kunisada 歌川 国貞 (1786 - 1865), Kagamiwa of The West Side, 1846, Colour print from woodblocks © Collection: Frank Milner.
Toyohara Kunichika 豊原 国周 (1835 - 1900), Danjuro IX Concentrating, 1881, Colour print from woodblocks © Collection: Frank Milner.
Toyohara Kunichika (1835 - 1900) 豊原 国周, An All-Women Group of Fans Watch a Kabuki Play at the Morita Theatre (detail), 1871, colour print from woodblocks © Collection: Frank Milner.
Toyohara Kunichika 豊原 国周 (1835 - 1900), Three Otokodate and the New Shimbashe Station (detail), 1872, Colour print from woodblocks © Collection: Frank Milner.
Utagawa Kunisada (1786 - 1865) 歌川 国貞, Three Senior Oiran on Parade in the Yoshiwara, Edo, (detail), 1853, colour print from woodblocks © Collection: Frank Milner.
Toyohara Kunichika 豊原 国周 (1835 - 1900), The Geisha Kogiku Looking at Photographs, 1870, Colour print from woodblocks © Collection: Frank Milner.

I have been collecting these prints for nearly fifty years and have them hanging all over my house. I love their modern feel, extremely bright colours, quirky perspectives, as well as their daring and hugely imaginative compositions. We sometimes think that Japanese prints are mostly about landscape but they’re actually about people and I am mostly interested in the cultural and political side of things. I am delighted to be working with Watts Gallery to share highlights from my collection.

- Frank Milner, collector

Exhibition events

  1. Event

    Easter holidays