Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: Station 50, Tsuchiyama, c. 1833-1834
Ink on Paper
8 13/16 in. x 13 3/4 in. (223.84 mm x 349.25 mm)
Singer, Robert T. and Melinda Takeuchi. Edo Art in Japan 1615-1868. New Haven and London: Yale University Press., 1998.
On mat in pencil: Jo XX 50, Hiroshige, Tsuchiyama station 50, Spring Rain, 46.1.11. Censor's seal: Kiwame.
Nishiki-e, horizontal oban; colored ink on paper.
Color woodblock print with an image of a rain storm at Tsuchiyama.
Perhaps because Hiroshige was born to a samurai family, he shows a particular sensitivity in portraying the warrior class. Of the several daimyo processions he depicted in Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido this one is perhaps the most sympathetic: green- and rust-clad warriors, heads bowed in the bone-chilling downpour, slowly make their way across a bridge into Tsuchiyama, a spot so notorious for its rains that sometimes the post houses were washed away. Samurai had to comport themselves with dignity despite personal discomfort, in contrast to the commoners Hiroshige shows in other prints, who allow themselves the luxury of fleeing from the rain. The rushing river looks ready to take its toll, and the ominous cracks in the plaster of the dwellings do not augur well for a pleasant night's stay. The composition of this print is unique, consisting almost wholly of truncated forms. Unusual, too, is the technique of shading in the trees, which suggests the influence of Shijo-school painting. The dark, claustrophobic feeling contrasts with the spaciousness of Kanaya and the peaceful, crepuscular mood of Teahouse at Mariko. Hiroshige's manipulation of the landscapes' emotional expression in this series undoubtedly helped launch him from obscurity into fame.
Hoeido (Takenouchi Magohachi) seal.
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