Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: Station 38, Fujikawa, c. 1833-1834
Ink on Paper
8 15/16 in. x 13 15/16 in. (22.7 cm. x 35.4 cm.)
On mat in pencil: Jo XVIII n.38, Fujikawa Station 38, Hiroshige. Signed: Hiroshige ga.
Nishiki-e, horizontal oban; colored ink on paper.
Color woodblock print of a processional scene near water.
On the outskirts of Fujikawa station, at the tall boundary marker, town officials kneel to welcome the shogun's entourage as it passes through the town on the way to Kyoto. It was customary for the shogun to present a gift of horses to the emperor in Kyoto each year, on the first day of the eighth lunar month. This entourage is escorting the horses, which are decorated with white paper plumes.
It is speculated that Hiroshige himself traveled the Tokaido Road, accompanying an entourage of the shogun's officials with this annual gift of horses. The date of his trip is not definitely known, but it is believed to have occurred in the summer of 1832. Hiroshige's position or role as he member of the entourage has not been established. It is often mentioned that he was appointed to depict this official journey, but this is unlikely, because the shogunate had more qualified painters in residence, while Hiroshige was a virtually un-established print designer, the son of a fireman in Edo. To be part of such an official entourage, he would have had to purchase his place in it (Keyes 1989, p.49). If this were the case, then he would have been depicting his own entourage here.
The masterful printing of bokashi in the blue and pink sky and the green field enliven the scene.
(ref. “Hokusai and Hiroshige,” p. 201)
Hoeido (Takenouchi Magohachi) seal.
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