Japan: A Floating World in Print

A captivating display of Ukiyo-e prints from the Edo and Meiji print masters. The prints encompass the genres of beautiful women and dramatic landscapes. Well-known print artists Utamaro, Hokusai and Hiroshige are all represented.


Japan was opened up to the world following the end of the Edo period in 1868 and interest in the country’s culture, art and crafts quickly grew in the succeeding decades. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, many wealthy Western collectors amassed important collections of prints and decorative wares. The foundations of Maidstone Museum’s internationally significant collections lie in the collections of such local benefactors.

The outstanding prints are predominantly drawn from the collections of Sir Walter Samuel, the son of Lord and Lady Bearsted. Sir Walter assembled his collection while travelling in Japan where the company his father founded, Shell Oil, had business interests. Sir Walter was a lover of the arts and generously donated his collection to the Museum in 1923 via the National Arts Collection Fund.