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Nihonbashi Bridge at Dawn

Nihonbashi Bridge at Dawn

£95.00
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0.5 KGS
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Hiroshige's 'Nihonbashi Bridge at Dawn' (1830s)

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858, sometimes called Ando Hiroshige) was the second of the two great masters of the Japanese landscape woodblock print known as ukiyo-e after Hokusai. He is considered to be the last great master of that tradition.  Hiroshige is best known for his landscapes, such as the series 'The Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido' and 'The Sixty Nine Stations of the Kiso Kaido', and for his depictions of birds and flowers. The subjects of his work were atypical of the ukiyo-e genre, whose typical focus was on beautiful women, popular actors, and other scenes of the urban pleasure districts of Japan's Edo period (1603–1868).

For scholars and collectors, Hiroshige's death marked the beginning of a rapid decline in the ukiyo-e genre, especially in the face of the westernisation that followed the Meiji Restoration  of 1868. However, Hiroshige's work came to have a marked influence on Western painting towards the close of the 19th century as a part of the trend in Japonism . Western artists closely studied and admired Hiroshige's compositions, and some, such as Van Gogh, painted copies of Hiroshige's prints.

The  Hoeido edition of the Tokaido is Hiroshige's best known work, and were the best ever selling ukiyo-e of all time.  Influenced by Hokusai's 'Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji' series, it established this new major theme of ukiyo-e, the landscape print, or fukei-ga, with a special focus on famous views. These landscape prints took full advantage of the new possibilities offered by the Western representation of perspective that Japanese artists had by now fully assimilated. Hiroshige's series met with resounding success, not only in Japan but also later in the West.

In 1832 Hiroshige made his first journey down the Tokaido highway, which resulted in his first great artistic success, the original 'Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido.  This series catapulted him to great national fame. This series is now universally regarded to be among the greatest of all Japanese landscape prints, and one of the two greatest series of his lifetime.  Hiroshige is universally recognised as one of the greatest Japanese artists of his era.

The Tokaido road was the main travel and transport artery of old Japan, linking the shogun’s capital, Edo, to the imperial one, Kyoto.  This print depicts a scene looking across Nihon Bridge, which was located in the centre of Edo and was the starting point of the modern Tokaido Highway.  The everyday scene of contemporary Japan is set in the light of the gentle morning sun at dawn. Hiroshige captures a graceful poetry within this quotidian scene with his unique style, which has been admired universally.

 

 

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