Picture Book Gallery

About the Picture Book Gallery

This series introduces famous picture books of Japan and the West in the period from the eighteenth century to the 1930s. Looking at the books made in different countries during this time we can see at work a ceaseless process of transmission of images that appeal universally to the hearts of children, transcending states, eras, and even the individual traits of the artists.

The history of the picture book began with pictures, or illustrations, which were merely appendages to the text. As these images were transmitted, they matured, along with advances in printing technology and developments in society, and began to circulate as “picture books.” In the 1920s and 1930s, with the blossoming of advanced printing arts and technology in various parts of the world, the picture book entered its “golden age.”

Here we present 9 exhibits that introduce as many outstanding classics as possible of each of the three eras: “era of illustrated books,” “era of picture books,” “golden age of the picture book.”

The Picture Book as Stage: The Stories, Songs, and Poetry of Three Picture Book Creators of Nineteenth-Century England,” introduces the pioneers of picture books active during the age of color woodblock prints. In the masterful works that opened the curtain on Europe’s “age of the picture book,” you can enjoy stories, children’s songs, and the world of Mother Goose.

Kodomo no Kuni: Artists and Children’s Books in 1920s Japan” introduces the picture book magazine Kodomo no kuni [Land of Children], publication of which began in 1920s Japan, during the liberal era known as Taisho Democracy. It shows examples of the outstanding artwork, songs, and tales that flowered in this magazine under the influence of the Modernist movement.

Jugendstil Picture Book Artists and Their Contemporaries” deals with picture books produced in Europe from the end of the nineteenth century through the beginning of the twentieth century by the new decorative arts movement known as “Art Nouveau” or “Jugendstil.”

Edo Picture books and Japonisme” takes up picture books from the Edo period (1603-1867). Also introduced are picture books created in England that reveal Japonisme under the influence of ukiyo-e and other woodblock prints as part of the response of Western artists to Japanese art and culture.

Art and Daily Life: Modernism in the Picture Book” presents a selection of picture books made in the Soviet Union, the United States, Germany, and Japan from 1920 through the 1930s that display the artistic experimentalism of the Modernist movement and the heightened social consciousness of writers and artists.

American Picture Books: Prologue to the Golden Age” introduces picture books of the period beginning from the end of the Civil War to the early years of the twentieth century when people had begun to form a clear identify of themselves as Americans.

Children’s Picture Books: The Transmission of Images” the Gallery’s database of illustration, is centered on illustrated books of Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including textbooks for arithmetic or reading and writing, books of games and etiquette, and folk tales and adventure stories, as well as works by famous illustrators of the time and horn books. It also includes many outstanding English and French picture books that could not be introduced in “The Picture Book as Stage” or “Jugendstil Picture Book Artists and Their Contemporaries”.

Kodomo no Kuni magazine article search” and “Yonen Gaho magazine article search” are databases of picture magazines. The works published in the " Kodomo no Kuni magazine " and “Yonen Gaho magazine", which were representative magazines in prewar period, are available and searchable by author, keyword, volume and issue.

Picture Book Gallery
The International Library of Children's Literature / National Diet Library