Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) The Fifty-Three Stations by Two Brushes No 20: Fuchu - Fording the Abe River, 1854. Oban.
Click here for a full-size image.
Looking at the set of these prints together, it is the presence of water… rivers especially, that is so striking. Rivers or sea appear prominently in 37 of the 53 prints. This lovely print is a near companion in style and in design and colour to the other print in this collection, no 23.
The Tokaido Road dates from 1603 and connected the two capitals, Edo and Kyoto. It was constructed by Tokugawa Iyeyasu and was used for processions of Lords twice a year to the ruler's palace in Edo. Hiroshige first travelled it in 1832, producing a fine series of prints of each of the fifty-three post-stations along the highway. He frequently returned to the subject which had made him famous, producing at least a dozen series of prints in his lifetime.
This is a series that rarely comes to the market. A Hiroshige set of Tokaido Road Stations with figures drawn by Kunisada. Both artists were well established and both artists were colleagues and friends it would seem. It is a fine series, clean, beautifully designed and nicely put together… of course Kunisada and Hiroshige had worked on the One Hundred Ogura Poets series in 1847 which also appears in this selection. The series was possibly a response to greater censorship regarding the decadence of woodblock printing, but more likely a response to an increasingly mobile and sophisticated audience. This print shows a peasant woman with a child, they have been picking tea. Behind them is another fine Hiroshige landscape of the Abe River sweeping down to the coast with pronounced wood grain printed, animating the river.
Full size, the condition and colour and impression are all very fine, the Hiroshige landscape scene is especially fresh, the woodgrain exceptionally visible in the green of the foreground and the distant hills.
Publisher: Maruya Kyushiro.
24.5 x 36 cm.