Saturday, 10 June 2017

After Utagawa Hiroshige’s woodblock print, “Mutsu Province: View of Matsushima, Sight Map from Mount Tomi”, 1853–58


Recut plate after Utagawa Hiroshige [歌川広重] (aka Utagawa Hiroshige; Hiroshige, Utagawa [art name]; Hiroshige, Ando [安藤広重]; Ichiryusai [一立斎]; Ichiyusai [一幽斎]; Ryusai [立斎]; Utashige [歌重]; Juemon [重右衛門]; Tokubei [徳兵衛]; Tokutaro [徳太郎]) (1797–1858)

Recut plate after Plate 1.28: “Mutsu Province: View of Matsushima, Sight Map from Mount Tomi” (Mutsu, Matsushima fûkei, Tomiyama chôbô no ryakuzu), Edo period, 1853–58 (Kaei 6), 8th month, from the series “Famous Places in the Sixty-odd Provinces [of Japan]” ([Dai Nihon] Rokujûyoshû Meisho Zue)「六十余州名所図絵 陸奥 松島風景 富山眺望之略図, block cut by Yokokawa Takejirô (Hori Take), published by Koshimuraya Heisuke (Koshihei).

Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and colour on paper
Size (vertical ôban): (sheet) 36.2 x 24.2 cm; (plate) 35.6 x 23.6 cm; (image borderline) 34.5 x 22.7 cm
Transliteration of inscription: “Rokuju-yo Shu Meisho Zue”; “Hiroshige hitsu”; “Mutsu Matsushima fukei Toyama chobo no kanzu”
Recut plate of the original inscriptions:
Signed: Hiroshige hitsu (広重筆)
Censors' seals: Kinugasa, Murata, Ox 8 (衣笠、村田、丑八)
Blockcutter's mark: Hori Take (彫竹)

Binyon 1916 337 (Laurence Binyon 1916, “A Catalogue of Japanese & Chinese Woodcuts Preserved in the Sub-Department of Oriental Prints and Drawings in the British Museum”, London, UK, BMP); Ukiyo-e shûka 14 (1981), Hiroshige list, p. 249, ôban #64.66
The British Museum offers the following description of the original print (of which this is an impression from a recut plate): “Woodblock print. Rural landscape. Bird's-eye view of Matsushima bay and Mount Toyama, Mutsu province.” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=787973&partId=1&people=140452&peoA=140452-3-18&page=1)

See also three variation of this print at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; http://www.mfa.org/search?search_api_views_fulltext=Hiroshige++Mutsu+Province%3A+View+of+Matsushima
For the titles and numbering of Utagawa Hiroshige plates, see The Hara Yasusaburo Collection: Hiroshige Vivid: http://www.suntory.com/sma/exhibition/hiroshigelist_en.pdf  

Condition: marvellously rich, faultless impression in near pristine condition (i.e. there are no stains, foxing, tears, holes, folds or abrasions and age toning is minimal).

I am selling this stunningly rich recut copy of the original woodblock print by one of the most famous of the Japanese masters, Utagawa Hiroshige, for AU$170 (currently US$127.90/EUR114.60/GBP100.62 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this recut copy of a masterwork of woodblock printing, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


Before I discuss this print I need to clarify that this is a genuine woodblock COPY of Utagawa Hiroshige’s famous print executed following the same traditional printing processes. In short, it is not an original print from the hand of Hiroshige.

Hiroshige’s design for this print and the others in the same series showing views of famous places in Japan had their origins in ancient illustrations from Japanese guidebooks called meishō zue. In fact, according to Wikipedia, “at least 26 of the designs are believed to have been based on drawings from the 8-volume series of guidebooks called Sansui Kikan (Exceptional Mountain and Water Landscapes) written and illustrated by Fuchigami Kyokkō (淵上旭江) (1753–1816) published by Yanagihara Kihei from 1800–1802.”

I mention this interesting insight because the vertical format used by Hiroshige in the series was the first time that it had been employed for solely artistic purposes. Moreover, Hiroshige is likely to have appropriated this vertical format from the same source—the Meisho Zue guidebooks. Marije Jansen (2004) in “Hiroshige’s Journey in the 60-Odd Provinces Hotei” proposes that this particular format would also “have been a strong marketing ploy at the time and [offers] a better binding of such a large number of prints” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Famous_Views_of_the_Sixty-odd_Provinces). 

Beyond such practical purposes, there is one other issue that needs to be noted: the vertical format arguably gave Hiroshige greater opportunity than the traditional horizontal format to organise spatial depth as a path of critical landscape features acting as visual stepping-stones from foreground to distance.






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