Hiroshige I Utagawa, Nihon Bridge, Snow Scene, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

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Artist: Hiroshige I Ando (1797-1858)
Title: 1. Nihon Bridge, Clear Skies after Snow
Series: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Publisher: Uoya Eikichi
Date: c.1856-1859
Dimensions: 22.9 x 34.2 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

 Such a sight of Nihonbashi in the Edo period (1603-1868) would have been extraordinarily vibrant and full of life. Understandably, Hiroshige begins his tour of Edo here: the central place of trade and commerce which marked the starting point for the Tokaido road. Fisherman can be seen selling tuna with stalls along the river, whilst traders arrive on boats with thatched roofs to protect their cargo. Hiroshige renders this clear day after snowfall with a pervasive bright white. Entirely illuminated by the morning sunshine, the large storehouses along the left bank stand in bold contrast to the rich Prussian blue of the Nihonbashi River. Horizontally demarcating the scene is the renowned bridge itself, exceeding its actual recorded length but emanating with the bustle and energy it was known for. Mount Fuji occupies the highest position in the print, which along with the distant sight of Edo Castle on the right-hand side, form the diarchy essential to the legitimacy of the newly established capital and rightful reign of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Today, Nihonbashi is a financial district in Tokyo that grew around this bridge of the same name. The original wooden bridge was built in 1603 and was replaced by a new stone and steel construction in 1911.

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Print Format Oban (Vertical)
Artist Name Hiroshige Ando
Title 1. Nihon Bridge, Clear Skies after Snow
Subject Landscapes
Dimensions 22.9 x 34.2 cm
Condition Report Trimmed. Some pinholes.
Series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Publisher Uoya Eikichi

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’.