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MFA Publications

  • "Characterization of Yellow and Red Natural Organic Colorants on Japanese Woodblock Prints by EEM Fluorescence Spectroscopy" by Michele Derrick, Richard Newman, and Joan Wright in JAIC, 2017. Link
Excitation–emission matrix (EEM), or 3D fluorescence spectroscopy, was used to characterize natural yellow and red organic colorants in 18th-century Japanese woodblock prints as part of a project designed to systematically identify the colorants. This analysis technique collected emission spectra in the visible region for a sequence of excitation wavelengths at 10 nm steps from 250 to 600 nm. The resultant data set provided characteristic excitation/emission patterns that were used to identify several natural colorants, including safflower, madder, sappanwood, gamboge, flavonoids, berberines, and turmeric. In combination with other non-sampling methodologies, including x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and fiber optic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS), most colorants on the prints were quickly and non-destructively characterized. Based on examination of 213 prints, several patterns of colorant use were observed. The prints often contained more than one yellow, red, or blue colorant. From 1781 to 1801, considered the Golden Age, it was common to find multiple types of yellows, reds, and blues on a single print. The colorant madder was identified on many of the prints, while gardenia and berberine-containing dyes were not found. This paper presents the theory, experimental parameters, and limitations of the EEM fluorescence technique.

  • "Plant Dye Identification in Japanese Woodblock prints" by Michele Derrick, Joan Wright, and Richard Newman in Arnoldia 74/3, February 2017. PDF
Three non-destructive analysis techniques were used in the analysis and identification of natural colorants used in the production of Japanese woodblock prints. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) was used to determine the presence of any inorganic compounds, and fiber optic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) was used to distinguish between indigo and dayflower in the blue, green, and purple regions. A third technique, excitation emission matrix (EEM), or 3-D fluorescence spectroscopy, was used for the characterization of the red and yellow plant-based colorants.

  • "The Colors of Desire: Beauties of the Yoshiwara Observed" by Joan Wright, Michele Derrick, and Michiko Adachi in Suzuki Harunobu exhibition catalogue, 2017. Worldcat
Published during the final year of his life, Suzuki Harunobu’s five volume Beauties of the Yoshiwara (1770) is considered to be one of the first full-color printed books and can be seen not only as a masterpiece of his designs for book illustration but also as a compelling example of how artisan-printers might have developed a palette during the early years of full-color printing. Within these five volumes, the profusion of colors and innovative mixtures seen in the first two volumes appears to give way in the last three volumes to a comparatively restrained palette. During the years that followed Harunobu and as print production matured, the development of a standardized palette was likely advantageous for both efficiency and economy within the increasingly commercialized world of publishing.

Other Publications and Resources

Toyokichi Takamatsu, 1878.
National Museum of American History, 1889.
A group of prints, woodblocks, tools and sample pigments that were gifted to the Smithsonian in 1889 by Michimasa Tokuno who was the head of the Japanese bureau of engraving and printing.
  • Tools and materials illustrating the Japanese method of colour-printing Digital book
Edward Fairbrother Strange, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1913.
Information regarding colorant is a translation of Bungei Ruisan (文芸類纂) by Yoshino Sakakibara, Volume 8 P.24-25, 1878. Digital book
  • Nishikie no hori to suri (錦絵の彫と摺) Worldcat
Kendo Ishii, 1929. In Japanese. A translation by Tim Clark is available. Worldcat
  • The making of Japanese prints and the history of Ukiyo-é Worldcat
Chie Hirano, 1939. An excerpt is available here.
  • Ukiyo-e hanga no dekirumade (浮世絵版画のできるまで)
Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 1981. In Japanese. Exhibition Catalogue.
  • Identification of traditional organic colorants employed in Japanese prints an determination of their rates of fading AATA Getty
Robert L. Feller, Mary Curran, and Catherine W. Bailie in "Japanese woodblock print: a catalogue of the Mary A. Ainsworth Collection, 1984"
  • Surimono Analysis of Metals and Examination of Techniques Used in Japanese Prints (thesis (certificate in conservation))
Marie Culver in "Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, May 1984", Unpublished, pp. 1-30 passim.
  • Non-desctructive determination of colorants used in traditional Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints by the three-dimensional fluorescence spectrum using fiber optics (光ファイバーを用いる三次元蛍光スペクトルによる日 来の浮世絵版画に使用された着色料の非破壊同定) PDF
Susumu Shimoyama, Yasuko Noda, and Shinya Katsuhara, 1998. In Japanese with English abstract.
  • The connoisseruship problem of discolored lead pigments in Japanese woodblock prints AATA Getty
Judith Walsh, Barbarar H. Berrie, and Michael Palmer in "IPC conference papers London, 1997: proceedings of the Fourth Internation Conference of the Institute of Paper Conservation, 6-9 April 1997, 1998"
  • The analysis and conservation of aniline-dyed, nineteenth-century Japanese prints AATA Getty
Pamela de Tristn in "IPC conference papers London, 1997:proceedings of the Fourth Confrence of the Institue of Paper Conservation, 6-9 April 1997, 1998"
  • The ozone fading of traditional Japanese colorants Link
Paul M. Whitmore and Glen R. Cass, 1998.
  • Aobana and aobanagami (アオバナと青花紙 : 近江特産の植物をめぐって) Worldcat
Sadao Sakamoto and Yukino Ochiai, 1998. In Japanese.
  • An electronic transmission analysis of metallic particles in nineteenth century Japanese woodblock prints Link
John Fiorillo, Richard Hashimoto, and Sarath Menon in "Andon", 2000. A summary by John Fiorillo can be found here
  • Seeing red: investigating Japanese woodblock prints and organic colorants using spectrophotometry AATA Getty
Michelle Facini at Papers presented at the 27th annual conference of ANAGPIC, April 19-21, 2001.
Shiho Sasaki, 2001.
  • A study of dayflower blue used in Ukiyo-e prints Link
Shiho Sasaki and Pauline Webber, 2002.
  • Color as language in traditional Japanese prints AATA Getty
Roger S. Keyes and Elizabeth I. Coombs in "The broad spectrum: studies in the materials, techniques, and conservation of color on paper, 2002"
  • Non-destructive analysis of ukiyo-e, traditional Japanese woodblock prints, using a portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometer AATA Getty
Yasuko Noda and Susumu Shimoyama, 2002.
  • Suzuki Harunobu (青春の浮世絵師 鈴木春信-江戸のカラリスト登場-) Worldcat
Chiba City Museum and Hagi Uragami Museum, 2002. In Japanese. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Ultraviolet and infrared examination of Japanese woodblock prints:identifying reds and blues PDF
Betty Fiske and Linda Stiber Morenus, 2004.
  • Dayflower blue: its appearance and lightfastness in traditional Japanese prints AATA Getty
Shiho Sasaki and Elizabeth I. Coombs in "Scientific research on the pictorial arts of Asia:proceedings of the second Forbes Symposium at the Freer Gallery of Art, 2005"
  • The identification and light sensitivity of Japanese woodblock print colorants: the impact on art history and preservation AATA Getty
Sandra A. Connors, Paul M. Whitmore, Roger S. Keyes, and Elizabeth I. Coombs in "Scientific research on the pictorial arts of Asia:proceedings of the second Forbes Symposium at the Freer Gallery of Art, 2005"
  • Hokusai and the blue revolution in Edo prints PDF
Henry D. Smith in "Hokusai and his age: ukiyo-e painting, printmaking and book illustration in late Edo Japan, 2005"
  • Non-Destructive Identification of Blue Colorants in Ukiyoe Prints by Visible-Near Infrared Reflection Spectrum Obtained with a Portable Spectrophotometer Using Fiber Optics (光ファイバー接続簡易携帯型分光器を用いる可視‐近赤外反射スペクトルによる浮世絵版画青色着色料の非破壊同定) PDF
Susumu Shimoyama, Hideo Matsui, and Yasuko Shimoyama, 2006. In Japanese with English abstract.
  • Environmental Degradation vs. Artistic Intention: The Darkening of Lead Pigments on Japanese Woodblock Prints Link
Christina Finlayson, Aaron Shugar, and Judith Walsh, 2009.
  • Deterioration of Ferric Ferrocyanide Pigment in Ukiyo-e Printed in the Late Edo Period (江戸時代の浮世絵版画に用いられたフェロシアン化鉄顔料の劣化) PDF
Keiko Kida and Masahiro Kitada, 2010. In Japanese with English abstract.
  • Characterization of traditional Japanese colorants in woodblock printing using multispectral imaging Poster
Gwenanne Edwards, Cyntia Karnes, and Lynn Brostoff, 2012.
  • A Study into the Development of Colorants used in Late Ukiyo-e Prints (translated title) (後期浮世絵木版画に使用された色材の変遷に関する研究) Tohoku University of Art & Design blog
Asuka Yamato, 2013. In Japanese.
  • Analysis of the Used Colorants in the Ukiyo-e Wood Prints Made during the End of Edo-Period and the Beginning of Meiji-Period : Red, Yellow and Green (幕末明治期の錦絵に用いられた色材調査 : 赤色,黄色,緑色について) PDF
Yoshiko Shimadzu, 2016. In Japanese.
  • Synthetic arsenic sulfides in Japanese prints of the Meiji period Research article
Yanbing Lueo, Elena Basso, Henry D. Smith II, and Marco Leona, 2016.
  • The Anatomy of Colors (色の博物誌:江戸の色材を視る・読む) Worldcat
Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo, 2016. In Japanese.
Elyse Driscoll, 2016.
  • Not fade away: preventive conservation on Hokusai prints Musuem blog
Capucine Korenberg and Andrew Shore, 2017.
  • Analytical imaging of colour pigments used in Japanese woodblock prints using Raman microspectroscopy Link
Takeo Minamikawa, Daiki Nagai, Takaaki Kaneko, Ittetsu Taniguchi, Mariko Ando, Ryo Akama, and Kenji Takenaka, 2017.
  • A timeline for the introduction of synthetic dyestuffs in Japan during the late Edo and Meiji periods Research article
Anna Cesaratto, Yan-Bing Lueo, Henry D. Smith II, and Marco Leona, 2018.
  • Natural and synthetic arsenic sulfide pigments in Japanese woodblock prints of the late Edo period Research article
Stephanie Zaleski, Yae Takahashi, and Marco Leona, 2018.
  • Colours and pigments in late ukiyo-e art works: A preliminary non-invasive study of Japanese woodblock prints to interpret hyperspectral images using in-situ point-by-point diffuse reflectance spectroscopy Link
Josefina Pérez-Arantegui, David Rupérez, David Almazán, and Nerea Díez-de-Pinos, 2018.
  • Red and blue colours on 18th–19th century Japanese woodblock prints: In situ analyses by spectrofluorimetry and complementary non-invasive spectroscopic methods Link
A. Mounier, G. Le Bourdon, C. Aupetit, S. Lazare, C. Biron, J. Pérez-Arantegui, D. Almazán, J. Aramendia, N. Prieto-Taboada, S. Fdez-Ortiz de Vallejuelo, and F. Daniel, 2018.
  • s.a.m.@ PAM: Suzuki Harunobu and Color in Japanese Prints Video
Portland Art Museum, 2018.
  • Probing some organic ukiyo-e Japanese pigments and mixtures using noninvasive and mobile infrared spectroscopies Link
Carole Biron, Gwénaëlle le Bourdon, Josefina Pérez-Arantegui, Laurent Servant, Rémy Chapoulie, and Floréal Daniel, 2018.
  • A joint research report on the production of aobanagami (青花紙製作技術に関する共同調査報告書) Worldcat
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, 2018. In Japanese.
  • Characterisation of organic colourants in ukiyo-e prints by Fourier transform near infrared fibre optics reflectance spectroscopy PDF
C. Biron, F. Daniel, G. Le Bourdon, R. Chapoulie, and L. Servant, 2019.
  • Developing a systematic approach to determine the sequence of impressions of Japanese woodblock prints: the case of Hokusai's 'Red Fuji' Research article
Capucine F. Korenberg, Lucia Pereira-Pardo, Peter J. McElhinney, and Joanne Dyer, 2019.
  • Evidence of early amorphous arsenic sulfide production and use in Edo period Japanese woodblock prints by Hokusai and Kunisada Research article
Marc Vermeulen and Marco Leona, 2019.
  • Creation and reference characterization of Edo period Japanese woodblock printing ink colorant samples using multimodal imaging and reflectance spectroscopy Research article
Tana Villafana and Gwenanne Edwards, 2019.
  • A blue can conceal another! Noninvasive multispectroscopic analyses of mixtures of indigo and Prussian blue Link
Carole Biron, Aurélie Mounier, Gwénaëlle Le Bourdon, Laurent Servant, Rémy Chapoulie, and Floréal Daniel, 2019.
  • Non-Invasive Identification of Dyes and Pigments in Japanese Woodblock Prints by Katsushika Hokusai Link
Radka Sĕfců, 2019.
  • Japanese Woodblock Prints and Collectors in the Czech Lands Link
Markéta Hánová, 2019.
  • Colours of the « images of the floating world ». non-invasive analyses of Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints (18th and 19th centuries) and new contributions to the insight of oriental materials Link
Carole Biron, Aurélie Mounier, Josefina Pérez Arantegui, Gwénaëlle Le Bourdon, Laurent Servant, Rémy Chapoulie, Clodoaldo Roldán, David Almazán, Nerea Díez-de-Pinos, and Floréal Daniel, 2020.
  • Revealing the colours of ukiyo-e prints by short wave infrared range hyperspectral imaging (SWIR) Link
Carole Biron, Aurélie Mounier, Gwénaëlle Le Bourdon, Laurent Servant, Rémy Chapoulie, and Floréal Daniel, 2020.
  • Beyond the connoisseurship approach: creating a chronology in Hokusai prints using non-invasive techniques and multivariate data analysis Research article
Marc Vermeulen, Lucia Burgio, Nathalie Vandeperre, Elyse Driscoll, Madeleine Viljoen, Janie Woo, and Marco Leona, 2020.
  • Non-invasive identification of pigments in Japanese coloured photographs Link
Laura Rampazzi, Valentina Brunello, Francesco Paolo Campione, Cristina Corti, Ludovico Geminiani, Sandro Recchia, and Moira Luraschi, 2020.
  • Multi-analytic characterization of colorants in two impressions of an Utagawa Toyoharu perspective print Research article
Gwenanne Edwards and Tana Villafana, 2020.
  • Integrating liquid chromatography mass spectrometry into an analytical protocol for the identification of organic colorants in Japanese woodblock prints Research article
Marc Vermeulen, Diego Tamburini, Emily M. K. Müller, Silvia A. Centeno, Elena Basso, and Marco Leona, 2020.
  • Establishing the production chronology of the iconic Japanese woodblock print ‘Red Fuji’ PDF
Capucine Korenberg, Michele Derrick, Lucía Pereira Pardo, and Ryoko Matsubara, 2021.