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The Brilliance of Suzhou Prints – Popular Art that Blossomed in the Cosmopolitan City

Historically, prints with auspicious themes, landscapes, flowers and birds, and beautiful figures have enriched the lives of people in China.

Most astonishing in that long history was the birth of a revolutionary popular art form now commonly called “Shuzhou prints”, which occurred in the cosmopolitan city of Shuzhou in the 17th and 18th centuries, combining Chinese and Western art traditions.  It was a powerful force that did not stop with Chinese art, but went on to influence art abroad, such as in Japan and Europe.

Unfortunately, many of these Shuzhou prints were discarded in the course of everyday life, and very few have been passed down to present times, meaning we have not developed a deep understanding of the full picture.

In terms of both quality and quantity, the Umi-Mori Art Museum holds the world’s foremost collection of Chinese prints, with over 3,000 works including rare Shuzhou prints from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as works from contemporary times.  In this exhibition we have selected approximately 300 works from the museum collection, including works publicly exhibited for the first time, in the hope that visitors will enjoy this previously unknown world of Chinese prints.