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Chinese invented paper and printing many years before Europeans. Chinese woodblock printing has a tradition of 2000 years. The woodblock printing technique came from China to Japan several hundred years ago. Woodcuts were first used in ancient Egypt and Babylonia for impressing intaglio designs into unpressed bricks and by the Romans for stamping letters and symbols. The Chinese used wood blocks for stamping patterns on textiles and illustrating books. Woodcuts appeared in Europe at the beginning of the 15th cent., when they were used to make religious pictures for distribution to pilgrims.

Before and after the invention of printing from movable types in the mid-15th cent., some books were printed in Europe from engraved wooden blocks, with one block for each page. This method was developed by the 9th cent. A.D. in China. The practice has a richer history in the East than in the West since the number of characters used in Chinese writing made printing from movable type exceedingly difficult. At that time the artist and the artisan were one, the same person designing the cut and carving the block.

After the invention of the printing press, woodcuts, being inked in the same way as type, lent themselves to book illustration. Albrecht Pfister, c.1420–c.1470, printer, of Bamberg, Bavaria is believed to have been the first to print illustrated books, first putting them to this use c.1460. Other early woodcut illustrations are in the Bibles of the late 15th cent. and in the French Lyons edition (1493) of the works of Terence. The first Roman book with woodcuts appeared in 1467, but Venice became the center of Italian wood engraving.

In the 16th cent. in France woodcuts frequently served to illustrate books of hours book of hours, form of prayer book developed in the 14th cent. from the prayers of clerics appended to the main service. The subjects of the miniature illustrations (see miniature painting ) were frequently derived from the appendix of the Psalter. The book of hours served as a devotional work containing various prayers and meditations appropriate to seasons, months, days of the week, and hours of the day.

In Germany, where the form was particularly well developed, Dürer, Albrecht 1471–1528, German painter, engraver, and theoretician, most influential artist of the German school, born in Nuremberg. DECLINE & REVIVAL There was a decline in woodcutting with the increasing versatility and popularity of line engraving on metal. Even in the Netherlands, where woodcuts lasted longest, they were almost obsolete by the 18th cent. In England, however, Thomas Bewick 1753–1828, English wood engraver. Bewick pioneered in the revival of original wood engraving. He popularized wood engraving, bringing to perfection the technique of white-line engraving, in which lines print white on a black background. Gustave Doré, Gustave (güstäv` dôrā`), 1832–83, French illustrator, engraver, painter, and sculptor. He is best known for his highly imaginative and dramatic illustrations.

Wood engravings, made from end-grain woodblocks carved in relief, frequently illustrated newspapers and books since they could be inked and printed easily with letterpress type. Literary classics lavishly illustrated with wood engravings by Gustave Doré set the standard for the picture books of the day.


The Impressionist Movement, particularly in France was tremendously influenced by the the art and culture of Japan. The term Japonisme is said to have been coined by Philippe Burty, a collector and author to designate the arts of Japan. He used this word as a description for the love for things Japanese in an article published in 1876.

Following a period of welcome to Portuguese and Dutch missionaries and traders in Japan, as well as internal military conflict, the Tokugawa family ruled Japan, beginning in 1603. The Tokugawa Shøogunate remained in power for 265 years, with Japan closed to foreigners during this interval. Tokugawa Ieyasu, used his authority to guard against internal revolt or influences from outside Japan. He rewarded supporters with additional land while his enemies were permitted to have poorer land in more remote areas, but were powerless to hold any government office. All of these feudal lords, know as daimyo had to spend time each year in the new capital Edo(Tokyo), leaving their families as hostages in Edo for the entire year as a means of preventing conspiracy.

With the Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1616 and the succession of the second Shogun, Tokugawa Hidetada, any presence in Japan of foreign missionaries and traders was strictly outlawed. After 1630, Japanese were not permitted to leave Japan without facing the severest penalty. By the 1640’s just a few Dutch traders were allowed to remain. They were confined to a small island in Nagasaki Bay named Deshima under very strict regulations. The primary fears of the Shøogunate towards Christianity and the European influence was not religious in origin, but based upon the danger of revolt by strong feudal lords who might conspire with the Europeans for military assistance in overthrowing the Shøogunate. The possibility of any conflicting political loyalties from converts to Christianity added to fear of invasion. Books written by missionaries or traders in Chinese were burned or secretly stored by the government.

European language books were not prohibited, since so few Japanese were able to read them. And a few books of European scientific work written in Chinese were acceptable because of their educational value. Restrictions continued for nearly 100 years, placing limitations on Japanese scholars wishing to study European accomplishments.

With the treaty of Kanagawa in 1854 between the American delegation headed by Navy commander Matthew Calbraith (1754-1858) and the Japanese shogunate government, a period of 216 years of Japanese isolation came to an abrupt halt, and following there began a major focus upon imports both to and from Japan. In 1856 the Emporer was restored to the throne, and japan reopened. By 1867 there was a revolt of outside lords against the Tokugawa shogun. The years of Japanese seclusion helped to stimulate a profound curiousity in the European community toward Japan and the arts.


Ukiyo-e printing process:

Plain black inks were primarily used until 1716. From the 1660's to 1710, red ink was produced with red (lead) orange, green, yellow or lilac added. Blue was achieved with repeated printings in shades of blue. Gold dust was added from 1716. The artist producing a master painting which he traced, producing a paper template for each color. Japanese wood block prints were produced with natural vegetable dyes until about 1860, when they were gradually replaced by aniline dyes imported from Germany.

Vegetable colors inevitably fade out in the course of time. How long it will take, depends on proper or improper conservation. Exposed to the light, the sky-blues, violets and pinks have faded to buffs and grays.

These templates were then glued to woodblocks and the blocks were carved through the paper. Woodblocks were sequentially impressed onto paper. After impressing all woodblocks, the final prints were obtained. The making of a traditional ukiyo-e wood-block print was a collaboration of 3 elements, the designer, the wood-block cutter and the printer. Credit for the completed print generally goes to the designer /artist but the contribution of the other two craftsmen was equally important.

Ukiyo-e (translated from a Buddist term as pictures of the floating, or sorrowful world of pain) were a relatively inexpensive means of producing large numbers of images. They were intended for townsmen, who weren't wealthy enough to buy the original artwork. The original subject of Ukiyo-e was city life. In 1860 the woodblock print or ukiyo-e made it's way to Paris. By 1862 in Paris a shop called "La Jonque Chinoise" was opened on the Rue de Rivoli, near the Louvre Museum. The wood block art brought to the Europeans exotic scenes of Japanese landscape art, exquisitely lovely florals, Japanese carp, beautiful birds, lovely women wearing typical Japanese costumes in intricate patterns, pictures of Japanese family life of parents engaged in activities with children in the home, kite flying, picnicing or enjoying the outdoors, warriors on horses, or fighting in the field of battle, and scenes of normal Japanese trade activities being carried on. On the negative side, what also flooded Europe with Japanese ography in the form of woodblock prints, making these also easily accessible.

It sold Oriental art to collectors which included Degas and Monet. They also sold items of Japonisme which Impressionists painters used in their artwork.

The Japanese exhibited at the World's Fair held in Paris in 1867. In 1890, there was an exposition of Japanese prints at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. All this fanned the flame that helped fuel the flame of Japonisme for 40 years. The woodblock prints created expressly for import to the West, were so inexpensive that they were used as wrapping paper for porcelain and other treasures. It's been said that even the local butcher packaged his products in them. Europeans and Americans visited the exotic land of Japan enmasse, with a facination with all things Japanese-such as prints, dishes, vases, cups, fans, bowls, screens and garments such as Japanese kimonos, slippers etc.

Artists often demonstrate their calling as evangelists in their artwork. The Impressionist Movement saw a number of notable artists such as Vincent Van Gogh who was influenced by Jean-Francis Millet. Some French artists went so far as to proclaim themselves "Nabis" or "prophets" of a new style of art. The group had wealthy Jewish clientele. Their artwork was not always on the wholesome side. Van Gogh was the son of a Belgian pastor, who believed God was calling him to work as a missionary in the Borinage, a district where coal was mined. The majority of his paintings have distinctly Christian themes, such as Lazarus, the Pieta, The Good Samaritan, and innumerable works depicting the beauty of God's creation in landscape art, florals, portraits of the people and culture he lived around, etc.

In Nuenen, Van Gogh began painting in the style of this artist he so admired, painting peasants and rural scenes. He moved to the Dutch province Drenthe, later to Nuenen, North Brabant, also in The Netherlands, where he painted in The Potato Eaters, in 1885. It is now in The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam).

This love for culture or ethnicicity can be observed in the theme or design of art itself. Artists loved the wood block print for it's design, boldness of composition, clearly defined form, subtle color, and emphasis upon 2 dimentional space. Vincent Van Gogh, saw Japanese prints for the first time in 1885 in Antwerp. He purchased several. Two of these were Bridge in the Rain and Plum Tree In Bloom. In 1887, he began painting directly copied from Japanese prints. Some of this work was in the form of portraits. Of the bulk of Vincent Van Gogh's artwork, there are references to approximately 400 Japanese prints which he personally owned. Portraits of Pere Tanguy, an art materials supplier who promoted artists, show a colorful wall in the background of woodcuts with Japanese dancers. His painting entitled "Irises" is believed to be patterned from a Japanese woodblock print.

Van Gogh's collection of Japonisme can also be seen in the Japanese lacquered box he used to store woolens. Artist tools from Japan captured his imagination, and he enjoyed using these to duplicate woodcuts or to add calligraphy flourishes to his paintings.

Van Gogh's brother Theo purchased Japanese art for his gallery in Monmartre, offering Vincent woodblock prints. whose ministry first took him to Belgium as a mission field, developed an admiration the Japanese art form. In fact, Siegfried Bing, who was born into a Jewish merchant family left Germany in 1854 to work in his father's porcelain business in France. Bing launched a magazine Le Japon Artistique, hiring Van Gogh to promote the publication.


Some artists, such as Emil Orlik, chose to travel to Japan to study the woodblock printing method firsthand. He spent 11 monthes in Asia constantly sketching, and learning the techniques of woodblock cutting and printing. He returned to Europe with many of the blocks he'd cut. In 1904 the Aus Japan portfolio appeared published by Orlik himself. It contained 15 exquisite colour lithographs and etchings. Some were printed in Japan, others in Vienna.

Other Impressionist artists influenced by Japanese art were Edgar Degas, who produced art which has parts of people or objects cut off and he has various painting with vertical or diagonal lines present. Matisse, Chagell, Monet, Whistler and other artists of the Impressionist school. Mary Cassatt, an artist from Philadelphia, famous for her paintings of infants and children, went to Paris to study and decided to live there. Creating the quality of the Japanese print in a series she did, these became some of her most famous works.


Claude Monet was stationed in French Algiers when in the military. From 1871 to 1878 he painted at Argenteuil, a village on the Seine near Paris. In 1875 Claude Monet, who when he first discovered Japonese prints is said to have used them as wrapping paper in a spice shop in Holland, painted La Japonaise, showing his wife dressed in a Japanese kimono, holding a fan.

Monet endured extreme poverty till the 1880's. In 1878 he moved to Vetheuil. He made at least three trips to London between 1899 and 1904) painting the River Thames, the Waterloo and Charing Cross bridges, and the Houses of Parliament. He painted in the picturesque seaside town of Bordighera, Italy, and also on the coasts of France.

Purchasing property at Giverny, Monet constructed a water garden, with a lily pond, with a Japanese bridge overhung with willows and bamboo. His Poplar Series was done near his home at Giverny from his studio boat. The painting of the Rouen Cathedral was done of course at Rouen. He was in Norway in 1895, the guest of Queen Christiana, and it was snowing. He remarked to a friend that the icy stalactites hung from his beard as he worked. He painted Mt Kolsaas and the snowy town of Sandivka, which reminded him of a Japanese woodblock print. In 1908 he went to Venice setting up his easel on the island of San Giorgro Magriore.


Iowa-born artist Bertha Lum (1879-1954) is one of a legion of twentieth-century Western artists who have taken inspiration from Japanese precedents. Lum encountered Japanese woodblock prints while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. During trips to Japan she acquired printmaking tools and studied the woodblock technique. Kites was published in the December 1912 issue of the International Studio, the same year Bertha Lum was the only foreigner to show work in the Tenth Annual Art Exhibition in Ueno Park, Tokyo.


Wright’s lifelong interest in Japanese prints is detailed in Julia Meech book entitled “Frank Lloyd Wright and the Art of Japan – The Architect’s Other Passion. The tremendous impact Japanese prints had on not only Wright’s designs, but also his entire life can be observed in his own statement: “I remember when I first met the Japanese prints. That art had a great influence on my feeling and thinking…..I began to see nature in a totally different way.” Later in life, Wright further wrote, “If Japanese prints were to be deducted from my education, I don’t know what direction the whole (of my life) might have taken.”

Wright’s first saw Japanese prints in the January 1896 Exhibition and sale of over 440 ukiyo-e prints by the collector Ernest Fenollosa which was held in New York. During the late-1890’s various Japanese woodblocks and other art began to be seen in early, dated photographs of both Wright’s home and office. Wright began to collect them. The "design influence" of Japanese prints began to show up in his work as well, with the tall/narrow design shapes of vertical Japanese "pillar prints" ("hashira-e") and hanging scrolls (‘kakemono") becoming frequently incorporated into Wright’s architectural designs

Japanese prints adorned his walls, and it is well known that Wright kept within his bedroom/office a specially built easel upon which he always kept a changing display of three woodblock prints for ready viewing. His was also known for his tireless arranging and rearranging of prints and art objects throughout his home.


The market is currently undergoing a saturation with an eastern influence, which is going to be with us for a long time. Everywhere we are seeing this eastern influence in clothing that is silk, brocade, woven with gold threads, or beaded shoes and garments, as well as wall artwork. China heads the world market in exports, but we see abundant imports from Taiwan, Japan, East-India, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Persia, and everywhere an influence of a distinctly eastern flair. It's in architecture, furniture, and the garment industry. This is due not just to globalization but to colonization. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abedneggo understood this principle concerning colonization as "assimilation." In their cases, overt rejection could have cost them their lives. How often do we consider that the alcoholism, defiling type film industry, photography or artwork, and many of the things plaguing our society are perpetrated against a society to break down the culture and remold it. It's the defiling of the purer state that came to America and other cultures with past God-given reforms or revivals. We need to remember the word of God and stick to the old pathes. "Repent, be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38, Acts 8:16, Acts 10:46-48, Acts 19:5)

Daniel and the three Hebrews Shadrach, Meshach and Abedneggo chose to retain their own cultural identity in the midst of the ruling foreign culture of their day. Yeshua haMashiach/Jesus Christ came from above--from the kingdom of His Heavenly Father. This is a statement as to Christ's deity. It clearly states His origin.

John 8: 23 And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world."

Messiah was both God and man. He died on the cross for our sins as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. His phrase however "I AM from above" implies both a heavenly as well as a holy kingdom. It was for the high, the holy, and heavenly kingdom that He performed His wonderous works, teaching us to press into the kingdom of God. It's a kingdom we can abide as citizens of forever, through trusting in the atonement of Messiah for our sins.

Through faith in Yeshua haMashiach/Jesus Christ, we who are from "beneath" can experience a "heavenly birth."

John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

John 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

John 3:9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

John 3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

John 3:11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

John 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

A realm not of this world. He came to His own, who received Him not. But to as many as received Him gave He power to become the sons of God. Even as many as believe on His name. He so loved the world that he gave His life, that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish but have ever lasting life. (John 3:16) He did not allow the ungodly culture to rule over Him, but brought to it, a demonstration of the Spirit and of power from the heavenly realm. (My preaching was not in persuasive words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among the perfect: yet a wisdom not of this world; but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which none of the rulers of this world knoweth. But unto us God revealed it through the Spirit. The things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God, But we received, not the spirit which in of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things which are freely given to us by God; which things also we speak, not in the word which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth. Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things. -1 Cor.2:4-15.

) How incredibly much the world needs a visitation from God in the field of the arts!

Wondering where art will go next? As God pours out of His Spirit on all flesh as promised in Joel 2, and fulfilled in Acts 2:17-39, we will see the influence of God calling people to minister to various cultures, the influences on artists and their work as on all people.

Is. 58:12-14 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

13 ¶ If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the ahigh places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

Flee immorality! "Every sin that a man does is outside the body," but he who commits immorality sins against his own body.

19 Or don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Cor. 6:18-20)

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