Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Alpert Gallery of Currier & Ives
During the mid-19th century two separate cultures simultaneously developed a way to create fine art imagery that was affordable to the middle class. In America the renowned firm of Currier & Ives produced such images through the process of lithography. In Japan, Ukiyo-e or images of the “floating world,” a term used to refer to the merchant class, were created using the wood block printing method. The merchant class was not bound by the restrictions of the elite and indulged themselves with art and entertainment was a subculture in Japan that represented the merchant class. Both cultures found ways to distribute images for sale Because Japan was closed to the West during this time, it is particularly interesting that both cultures developed a solution in isolation. Japanese prints had a profound influence on Western art.