Collections: Asian Art: Nihonbashi, Clearing After Snow, No. 1 in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

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Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige's 118 woodblock landscape and genre scenes of mid-nineteenth-century Tokyo, is one of the greatest achievements of Japanese art.

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    Nihonbashi, Clearing After Snow, No. 1 in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

    How can a single composition document the city of Edo during the mid-nineteenth century? Three iconic images of Japanese culture during the time of Hiroshige are joined in this print, which was chosen to introduce the series: in the background, the perfect form of Mount Fuji, symbol of nature and the divine; at the right, Edo Castle, representing political power; and in the foreground, riverside scenes teeming with activity, emblematic of the common people. The snowy scene is cast in morning light, at the great Bridge of Japan, or Nihonbashi, from which distances to all parts of Japan were measured.

    • Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando), Japanese, 1797-1858
    • Medium: Woodblock print
    • Place Made: Japan
    • Dates: 5th month of 1856
    • Period: Edo Period, Ansei Era
    • Dimensions: Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm) Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm)  (show scale)
    • Signature: Artist Hiroshige-ga, Publisher Shitaya Uo Ei
    • Collections:Asian Art
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Accession Number: 30.1478.1
    • Credit Line: Gift of Anna Ferris
    • Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
    • Caption: Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando) (Japanese, 1797-1858). Nihonbashi, Clearing After Snow, No. 1 in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 5th month of 1856. Woodblock print, Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.1
    • Image: overall, 30.1478.1_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
    • Catalogue Description: This iconic view of Edo is the symbolic opening of the series. From an elevated viewpoint, it looks west across Nihonbashi, the Bridge of Japan, Bridge of the Rising Sun, across the grounds of Edo Castle to the upper right, toward the perfect form of Mount Fuji to the left. "Everything in this view suggests freshness and plenty. It is an early morning after new snow, and the morning sun casts reddish bands from behind us to middle left and upper right. Reading from the bottom, we first encounter the Edo fish market and can see fresh fish of all sizes already laid out for display, the street filling with browsing retail vendors and street peddlers. Up the river come the fishing boats, riding in on a deep fan of blue that suggests the sea and its bounty. These are the oshi-okuribune, which relied on oar power as well as the wind to get their produce to the morning market on time. They are covered with mat-roofs to protect the freshness of their cargo. The great bridge itself, from which distances to all parts of Japan were measured, is already busy with early morning traffic, its size approximately exaggerated. Beyond it to the right is ikkokubashi (see pl. 45). Just above it to the left stand fireproof mud-walled storehouses. Far out of scale and imprecise in placement, these white faces and tiles roofs are again symbolic, representing the power of the city of Edo to provide for its citizens, a promise that was rarely broken." (H. Smith, in Braziller, N.Y. 1986)
    • Record Completeness: Best (87%)
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