During the Meiji period in Japan (1868-1912), woodblock prints, known as "Meiji prints," underwent significant changes in style and subject matter. The Meiji period marked a time of modernization and Westernization in Japan, as the country opened up to the world after centuries of isolation.
Meiji prints often depicted scenes of rapid modernization, such as industrialization, urbanization, and the introduction of Western technology and fashion. The prints reflected the changing society and the fascination with Western culture that emerged during this period.
The subjects of Meiji prints expanded beyond traditional ukiyo-e themes. They included images of political events, historical figures, landscapes, and portraits of influential individuals. The prints also depicted scenes from the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), reflecting Japan's military successes and nationalistic sentiments.
In terms of style, Meiji prints incorporated elements of Western art techniques and aesthetics. The use of perspective, shading, and realistic portrayal of figures became more prevalent. The prints also started to incorporate new materials and techniques, such as lithography and photography, alongside traditional woodblock printing.
While Meiji prints were not as prolific or popular as ukiyo-e prints during the Edo period, they played a significant role in documenting and reflecting the societal changes and cultural shifts of the time. They provide valuable insights into the transition from a feudal society to a modern nation.