A rare gem: Drama and Desire presents 69 masterpieces of Japanese ukiyo-e painting by such renowned masters as Hokusai, Utamaro, and Harunobu, among others—all depicting aspects of the so-called “floating world,” the pleasure quarters of Edo (modern-day Tokyo), which were frequented by actors, courtesans, rich patrons, and bohemians. While woodblock prints of the floating world have long been a favorite of art lovers, the remarkable paintings of the period are far more rare. This volume collects key examples by some of Japan’s most important artists, each conveying a singular and very moving freedom of expression. Essays by renowned American and Japanese scholars, including Howard Hibbett and Masato Naito, set the context with discussions of Edo society and culture, the ways in which “high” and “low” arts mixed in ukiyo-e painting, and the prominent roles played by courtesans and geishas in the subculture of the period. This is a milieu of passion and mystery, color and flamboyance, boldly rendered in these uncommonly exotic masterworks. Published to accompany the first major American exhibition of ukiyo-e paintings in recent years, hosted by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 248 pages, 200 color illustrations, 10 x 11 1/2 in.