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Night View of the Matsuchiyama and Sam'ya Canal (Matsuchiyama San'yabori Yakei), No. 34 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

While some perceive this scene as sinister and strange, others see it as suggestive and romantic. In the dark background, at the foot of the hill Matsuchiyama and flanking the San'ya Canal and the pillars of the Imado Bridge, are the alluring lights of two restaurants. Stars glitter in the sky above and are reflected in the water below. In the foreground, a geisha follows the bright lantern of her attendant along the embankment. Hers is one of the few full portraits in the series. Perhaps returning from a banquet at one of the restaurants, she is an intriguing figure against the sultry backdrop.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 8th month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm) Image: 13 3/8 x 9 in. (34 x 22.8 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS No publisher's seal visible, probably lost when left edge was trimmed.
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.34
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1930, provenance not yet documented; by 1930, acquired by Anna Ferris of Summit, NJ; 1930, gift of Anna Ferris to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION One of the few full portraits of a geisha in this series. She follows the lantern of her attendant along the embankment of the Sumida River. The water reflects the stars and the sky. The San'ya Canal is the small inlet to the right, its entrance seen by the pillars of the Imado Bridge. On both sides of the bridge are two restaurants; on the right the Yumeiro (founded one year earlier) and the Takeya to the left. Small boats pass by the lights of the restaurants. The dark hill in the center, the "Matsuchiyama" has sexual connotations, having as the main object of worship in the Shoten shrine at its summit an Indian god in an entwined conjugal embrace. According to legend, the geisha shown here was a favorite of Hiroshige.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Night View of the Matsuchiyama and Sam'ya Canal (Matsuchiyama San'yabori Yakei), No. 34 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 8th month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.34 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.34_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.34_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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