Hiroshige Ando, Bikuni Bridge in the Snow, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige 36
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Artist: Hiroshige Ando (1797-1858)
Title: Bikuni Bridge in the Snow
Series title: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Publisher: Uoya Eikichi
Date: 1858
Size: 36.8 x 24.5 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

Hiroshige I Utagawa was renowned as one of the most skilled landscape artists of his time. Following in the footsteps of his teacher, Toyohiro Utagawa, he embraced producing images of natural landscapes at a time when travel between provinces was becoming more common, and convenient. With this new ease of travel came the demand for guides to these foreign locales in the form of both writing and images.

'One Hundred Famous Views of Edo' is one of Hiroshige's most celebrated and recognisable series. Bikuni bridge was known for is cheap restaurants that offered popular winter specialties, such as 'yakiimono', roast sweet potatoes. On the edge of the street to the right there are baskets of raw potatoes and the large characters next to them advertise the fact that the 'imo' are roasted whole. The large sign on the left says 'yama kujira', or 'mountain whale', a euphemism for the meat of wild animals.

Hiroshige played with picture composition and one that contributes to the fame of this series is that of a motif seen close-up and usually cropped by the margin on the print, as is the sign on the left of this print. This unusual technique in traditional Japanese art originates in the Western vanishing-point perspective. This encourages the viewer to linger on the design and creates a feeling of being present and standing right in front of the scenery.

More Information
Print Format Oban (Vertical)
Artist Name Hiroshige Ando
Title Bikuni Bridge in the Snow
Subject Landscapes
Dimensions 36.8 x 24.5 cm
Condition Report Slightly trimmed, wear and soiling, minor stains due to old glue on the right on the back.
Series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige Ando

Ando Hiroshige, who is best known for his landscape prints, is considered one of the six greatest Japanese printmakers in Ukiyo-e history and is said to have influenced Western impressionists, such as Van Gogh and Claude Monet, through his use of perspective. 1831 is the year when his first landscape series ‘Famous Places of The Eastern Capital’ (Toto Meisho) was published and the following year Hiroshige passed on his family responsibilities to his relatives to dedicate his entire energy to printmaking, changing his pen name further to reflect the change in his life. In the same year (1832), Hiroshige was appointed by Bakufu, the feudal government of Japan to accompany an official procession from Edo to Kyoto and then the residence of the emperor along the Tokaido road. The artist made many sketches during the journeys, resulting in the production of his most acclaimed series ‘Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road’ in the next two years. This series received a huge commercial success. It was rare for an artist (and regular people in general) to be able to travel and sketch landscapes from life rather than the imagination during the Edo period. The ten-year period of 1833-1843 is thought to have been Hiroshige’s most developed and innovative time as an artist. A lot of series that were produced during this time, such as ‘Sixty-nine Stations of Kisokaido Road’, ‘Eight Views of Omi’ and ‘Famous Places of Kyoto’, would lead to the peak of his career when he produced the ‘Famous Views of Sixty-odd Provinces’, ‘Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji’ and his last great series, ‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’.