Hiroshige II Utagawa, Gold Mine, Sado Island, One Hundred Famous Views of Provinces


Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826 – 1869)
Title: 54. Inside of Gold Mine, Sado Island
Series: One Hundred Famous Views of Provinces
Publisher: Uoya Eikichi
Date: 1859
Size: 36.2 x 24.7 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print. 


In this print, Hiroshige II beautifully utilises a gradation of very limited colours to create an atmospheric historical scene, which shows the inside of the Sado Gold Mine on Sado Island in Niigata prefecture. The visual highlight of this image is the intricate depiction of light and shadow, while a historical point of interest to the viewer lies in the unique insight into this man-made tunnel system, as well as the lives of the workers that occupy it.


Three men descend into the mine from the top. Slightly below them, two men are looking for gold, using chisels to break off chunks of stone. At the very bottom, another three are on a break, eating and chatting with each other. One last character in the lower right side of the print is set further back in the tunnel system, removed from the viewer, creating depth. The entire composition is cast in shadow, the only light coming from oil lamps located near the workers.

Hiroshige II Utagawa (1826 - 1869)

In the genre of Japanese art, Hiroshige II Utagawa was a woodblock print artist best known for continuing the tradition of Hiroshige I Utagawa in producing landscape prints. Born in Edo (today’s Tokyo), many details of his formative years are unknown, except that he became a pupil of Hiroshige I under the name of Shigenobu. Hiroshige II produced a large number of commissioned work in the 1850s in the style of the elder Hiroshige, and often signed his work ‘Ichiryusai mon’ (student of Ichiryusai, another art name of Hiroshige).

He seems to have married Hiroshige’s daughter Otatsu and inherited Hiroshige’s name following his death in 1858. In 1865 he moved from Edo to Yokohama after dissolving his marriage and began using the name Kisai Rissho. During this decade he produced a number of collaborative print series, particularly with Kunisada, who had earlier worked with Hiroshige I.

His works have often been confounded with those of Hiroshige I, resembling them closely in style, subject, and even signature, particularly in series such as ‘One Hundred Famous Views in the Various Provinces’ (1859-61) that echo his master’s ‘Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces’ (1853-56). ‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’ (1856-58), also mainly completed by Hiroshige I, was finished by Hiroshige II following the former’s death. While the signature on this series of prints remain the same, the later designs show stylistic resemblance to those of Hiroshige II. The artist’s other notable series include ‘Eight Views of the Sumida River’ (1861) and ‘Thirty-six Views of the Eastern Capital’ (1861-62).

More Information
Print FormatOban (Vertical)
ArtistHiroshige II Utagawa (1826 - 1869)
SubjectSamurai & Male, Landscapes, Others
Size36.2 x 24.7 cm
Condition ReportBacked, additional backing on the binding holes on the right margin, light pencil mark on the top margin, small stamp on the back.
SeriesOne Hundred Famous Views in the Various Provinces::Hiroshige II Utagawa
publisherUoya Eikichi:1855-1866