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Johnson Collection of Japanese Prints

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Ando Hiroshige (aka Hiroshige), Japanese, (1797–1858)
Whirlpools and Waves at Naruto Province (No. 55), c. 1853-1856
Ink on Paper
13 3/8 in. x 8 5/8 in. (33.97 cm x 21.91 cm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. J. Stanley Johnson
Accession Number: 2000.1.66

Commentary
Here, Hiroshige depicts the famous whirlpools in the Naruto Strait. The channel – located between Naruto in Tokushima (on Shikoku) and Awaji Island in Hyōgo Prefecture – connects Japan’s Inland Sea with the Pacific Ocean. Twice a day, the tide moves large amounts of water in and out of the Inland Sea through the narrow strait, causing water to rush through the channel reaching speeds of around 10 miles per hour and creating some of the world’s strongest currents and spectacular whirlpools, known in Japanese as uzushio or uzumaki. Though Hiroshige had never visited the Naruto Strait, he illustrated the whirlpools on more than one occasion. Here, he cleverly uses the white of the paper in the claw-like crests of the waves and the spiraling swirls of the whirlpool to express the water’s immense energy and perhaps pay homage to Hokusai’s iconic Great Wave.

- Meher McArthur, January 7, 2021

Marks
Signed Hiroshige ga in a red cartouche. Publisher's seal (Koshimuraya Heisuke).

Medium
Colored ink on paper; woodblock print; oban tat-e.

Object Description
Ninteenth century Japanese color woodblock print depicting swirling blue sea water between high rocks.

“A masterpiece. A whirling eddy and waves breaking into foam over projecting rocks....The sea should be a deep blue, not green as is generally found.” (Basil Stewart)

Publisher
Koshimuraya Heisuke (c. 1853-1856).

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