One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: Edo Bridge from Nihon Bashi, 1857
Ink on Paper
13 5/16 in. x 8 9/16 in. (338.14 mm x 217.49 mm)
Smith II, Henry D. and Amy G. Poster. Hiroshige 1797-1858 One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1986.
On mat in pencil: Hiroshige 100 Views of Edo 44.1.3 MI53. Censor's seal: Aratame, and date seal (M-juni).
Colored ink on paper; woodblock print.
Color woodblock print with an image of close up view of part of the Edo Bridge.
This is the first of the thirty prints assigned to "Summer" in the Table of Contents, and, like the "Spring" series, it starts at Nihonbashi, the famous bridge at the center of downtown Edo. It is interesting to compare these two prints. Before, we were offered a conventional high-angle view with stylized bands of clouds in the far distance. Here, however, the composition is of the wholly innovative type that we see often in this series; a radically cropped section of the immediate foreground, below eye level, is set against a distant landscape of the familiar sort.
In the foreground view, we are about four feet above the surface of Nihonbashi, identified by the metal ornament capping the post to the left; such ornaments were reserved for bridges of distinction (see pl. 76). Close inspection reveals that the upper surface of the bridge's top railing is missing - a striking violation of the laws of perspective. For Hiroshige, however, linear perspective was not a law, as in painting of the post-Renaissance West, but rather a visual effect that could be modified according to the dictates of the composition as a whole.
To the lower right, one glimpses the bucket of a fish peddler returning from the market that we saw in the first print. In the bucket is the famous "first bonito" (hatsugatsuo) that the Edokko prized so highly. Fisherman competed in the early summer to rush the earliest catch of the bonito schools to Edo's market, knowing that they could command outrageous prices. The appeal to the Edokko, proverbially eager to part with his money the day he earned it lay less in the taste of the fish than in its rarity.
In the springtime view of Nihonbashi we faced west toward Mount Fuji, while here we face east toward an equally iconic view - the rising sun (the very meaning of the bridge's name, according to one theory), which can be seen as a subtly printed red arc between two clumps of trees above the foot of Edobashi, the bridge in the distance. In later impressions, the outline of the sun is stronger and the effect less refined.
Uoei (Uo-ya Eikichi) seal.
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