The Smithsonian is open today, Monday, January 22.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
1050 Independence Avenue, SW
Sublevel 1 Floor Plan
Japanese woodblock-printed illustrated books (ehon) were key sources of knowledge and entertainment during the Edo period (1615–1868). Artists and writers created many designs for these books, and the compact, paper-bound volumes circulated widely. In a striking change from the past, when books were primarily reserved for the elite, the beautiful, intriguing, and humorous subjects in ehon brought reading to the masses. Organized by subject matter from classical Japanese literature to how-to manuals on popular interests of the time, Utamaro’s exquisite Shell book (Shiohi no tsuto) and such other fine art books as Hokusai’s best-selling Manga are highlights from the Gerhard Pulverer Collection. The Pulverer Collection, purchased in its entirety in 2007 by the Freer Gallery, includes some of the rarest examples of the Edo period's most famous illustrated books outside Japan.