Collections: Asian Art: Table of Contents, from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

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In this studio portrait, the Brooklyn artist Harry Edwards painted the Native American Handsome Morning, wearing a fringed shift with painte...

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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    Table of Contents, from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

    Published by Uoya Eikichi in 1856–58, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo proved immensely popular, and to meet the demand a deluxe edition was assembled. This decorative table of contents was published in 1858, after the completion of the individual prints of the deluxe series.

    Since Hiroshige died earlier that year, the series most likely had been forced to a premature close. Baisotei Gengyo (1817–1880), an artist best known for his decorative book jackets, was chosen to create this table of contents. While not an ukiyo-e artist proper, he had designed the table of contents for Hiroshige's Views of the Sixty-Odd Provinces in 1856.

    The 118 prints in the series are here presented in groups according to the four seasons, a mode of classification deeply ingrained in Japanese art and literature, and followed in this exhibition. Abbreviated titles of the prints are arranged in the table of contents in five blocks, each with a distinctive decorative technique. The titles of spring scenes appear in two separate rectangles at the top; summer scenes are listed in a fan pattern in the middle; autumn and winter scenes are shown below. Production dates for the prints are given in a vertical date seal in the left or right border of each print.

    The overall geometric pattern comprised of intricately designed parts is characteristic of late nineteenth-century Japanese decoration. The cartouche to the lower left offers the series title. Surmounting the title is Hiroshige's name and the advertisement that this series is his "grand farewell performance.' Below is the name and address of the publisher: Uoya (or "Fishmonger," apparently his former profession) Eikichi of Ueno Hirokōji.

    • Artists: Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando), Japanese, 1797-1858; Baisotei Gengyo, Japanese, 1817-1880
    • Medium: Woodblock print
    • Place Made: Japan
    • Dates: 10th month of 1858
    • Period: Edo Period, Ansei Era
    • Dimensions: Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm) Page: 14 3/8 x 9 3/16 in. (36.5 x 23.3 cm)  (show scale)
    • Markings: Publisher: Uoya Eikichi, Toeizan Hirokoji
    • Signature: Baisotei Gengyo (red cartouche, lower left)
    • Collections:Asian Art
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Accession Number: 30.1478.119
    • Credit Line: Gift of Anna Ferris
    • Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
    • Caption: Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando) (Japanese, 1797-1858). Table of Contents, from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 10th month of 1858. Woodblock print, Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.119
    • Image: overall, 30.1478.119_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
    • Catalogue Description: "This decorative presentation of the contents of the "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo" was published after the completion of the entire series of 118 prints in the tenth month of 1858. (Hiroshige died in the ninth month of that year.) The final three designs (prints 12, 41, and 114) were approved the month after the artist's death, a fact that lends support to the theory that they are the work of his successor (Hiroshige II) and this table of contents was probably commissioned at about the same time. The artist chosen for this table of contents was Baisotei Gengyo (1817-1880), a designer best known for his decorative book jackets. Gengyo had already designed a similar table of contents in 1856 for Hiroshige's "Views of the Sixty-Odd Provinces." Gengyo's seal appears in the lower right corner. The 118 prints in the series are here presented in groups according to the four seasons. The cartouche to the lower left offers the series title, "One Hundred Views of Edo" (Edo Hyakkei, lacking the proper prefix meisho, meaning "famous places," which had probably already become understood in popular parlance). Surmounting the title is the artist's name (Ichiryusai Hiroshige) and the advertisement that this series is his "grand farewell performance." The titles of the 118 prints - usually shortened forms of those appearing on the prints themselves - are arranged in five blocks, each presented with a distinctive decorative technique. The spring scenes (prints 1-42) are arranged in two separate rectangles at the top, the summer scenes (prints 43-72) in a fan pattern in the middle, with a blind-printed wave pattern in the background, and the fall and winter scenes (prints 73-98 and 99-118 respectively) below; both in fabric printing. The order is normally in horizontal columns, right to left across the top and then across the bottom, except for the summer scenes, which are arranged in ten "slices" of the fan, right to left, each with three titles arranged in artistic calligraphic order. The grouping of the scenes within each season is geographical, but not in any predictable fashion. The background is difficult to read as a whole. A single blooming plum, a sign of spring, runs from top to bottom, against a ground of reddish brown, yellow, and green (replaced by a uniform gray or blue-gray in later impressions). A hototogisu against the full moon, a sign of summer, shares its space with the fan shaped summer group. Peeking out from the cartouches along the bottom are a haystack and sprigs of the seven grasses of autumn. Spring reappears in the narcissus at the bottom. Winter is absent. (Interpretation by H. Smith, 1986)
    • Record Completeness: Best (83%)
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