Hiroshige, 100 Famous Views of Edo - Kanasugi Bridge and Shibaura

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) One Hundred Famous Views of Edo #80: Kanasugi Bridge and Shibaura, 7th month of 1857. Oban.

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Well, an outstanding Hiroshige from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo which undoubtedly influenced how we all see the world… a grand claim, but this sensational 1857 series  radically changed the composition, the viewpoint and the scale of the picture in a way that predicted Impressionism and more crucially photography. The pervasive influence of these extraordinary images is hard to overestimate. The One Hundred Views could be said to be one of the most innovative and influential works of recent times.

In this print, Hiroshige shows the festival celebrating the founder of the Nichiren Buddhists. This colourful procession is a group of Nichiren Buddhists crossing the Kanasugi Bridge where the Tokaido crosses the mouth of Furukawa River, along the stretch of coast known as Shibaura. The autumn season assigned to the print suggests that it is Oeshiki, the thirteenth day of the Tenth Month, the day Nichiren, the founder of this particular Buddhist sect, died in 1282. Whether the procession is en route to or returning from its destination, the temple where Nichiren died, is unclear. The sign of the sect, the lotus flower on a square well is seen on the red banners, and on the tops of the brown banners. The slogan, Salvation is in thee, thou wonderful law of the lotus sutra, is also inscribed on the red banner. The festival, and the temple precinct at Honmonji still attract large crowds of people. The area shown is the Shibaura (Shiba Coast), the stretch of coast from the mouth of the Furakawa River north to Hama Palace. The whole area was changed when Japan's first railroad was built (where the man is seen poling a boat). The area to the far right is now occupied by Tokyo Shibaura Electric, better known today as Toshiba.

I am struggling to think of a nineteenth century artist who would portray a festival filled with crowds of people and show only the banners in extreme close up and the hats of the people seen from above. It’s a magnificent achievement. The print is of the first edition, colour and impression are fine, fair margins on all sides.

Published by Sakanaya Eikichi.

23 x 36 cm.