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Dyers' Quarter, Kanda, No. 75 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando)

Asian Art

Long strips of freshly dyed cotton fabric hang from drying platforms erected high above dyers' shops in the Kanda district. Monogrammed fabric strips in the center dominate the composition. One bears the "fish" mark of the publisher of the series, Uoei, cleverly written so that it resembles the word for "we," pronounced "ue" and hence an abbreviation of "Uoei." The strips in the background bear the lozenge-shaped mark of Hiroshige; the inner shape reads "hi," the outer square "ro": "Hiro" [shige]. It is characteristic that the artist has placed himself behind his publisher—and that his personal mark appears only this once in the entire series.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 11th 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 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Publisher: Shitaya Uo Ei
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.75
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando) (Japanese, 1797-1858). Dyers' Quarter, Kanda, No. 75 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 11th 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, 30.1478.75
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.75_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This autumn scene shows long strips of freshly dyed cotton fabric hanging from drying platforms above the dyers' shops in the Kanda district, with Mount Fuji in the distance. It is thought that this design might have been inspired by a similar print, "Fuji of the Dyers' Quarter" in Hokusai's "One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji" (Fugaku Hyakkei, vol. II), published more than two decades earlier. In the left corner are textiles with large patterns in brown and indigo, for the summer or the bath. The blue and white pattern in the center is not printed in the traditional indigo of the dyer but the imported Prussian blue of the printer. The fabric will be made into cotton strips to be used as towels and headbands, common gift items in the Edo period and even today. The strips in the foreground bear the "fish" mark of the publisher, Uoei, and the strips in the background bear the lozenge-shaped mark of Hiroshige himself. The title name, Kanda Kon'ya-cho, was a proper administrative name and a description of the principal trade conducted in this district. By the end of the Edo period, the dyeing profession was scattered all over the city and by 1854 only 47 of the 522 dyeing shops in the city were located in Kanda. However, dyeing flourished here into the early 1960's, and even today there are still some fabric firms in the area, which is located just east of the Japan National Railways Kanda Station.
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