Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Sarah Schaefer

Second Advisor

Katherine Wells


Rykuga-shiki, or ‘abbreviated picture style,’ woodblock prints were first published and circulated widely in Edo period Japan (1615-1868). The style, created and popularized by Kitao Keisai Masayoshi (1764-1824) was not only admired and studied in its own time, but these Japanese ukiyo-e prints continued to influence style in the West. The work of artists in Paris, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) and Henri-Gabriel Ibels (1867-1936) present undeniable similarities (both in style and subject matter) with the ryakuga-shiki. Rarely studied and exhibited, the ryakuga-shiki are a part of the story of japonisme in France. This exhibition presents these prints in the context of work by Lautrec and Ibels for the first time, arguing that the French artists were indeed familiar on some level with and influenced by Keisai’s work. Beyond the obvious stylistic borrowings, the appropriation of Japanese prints styles and subject matter and their translation into French works has far more problematic cultural implications. By examining the legacy of the ryakuga-shiki beyond Japan, this exhibition and catalogue provide an opportunity to explore what it means to imitate and appropriate, collect, and value artwork from cultures that are not one’s own.