Asakusa ricefields and Torinomachi Festival

by Ando Hiroshige

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Artist Statement

We find ourselves indoors for the first time in Ando Hiroshige's iconic One Hundred Views of Edo, joining the cat in viewing the procession of the Torinomachi Festival. Though Hiroshige rebelled against traditional ukiyo-e subjects by choosing to depict more landscapes than cities or seductive ladies, it is worth noting that this particular view comes from inside the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters, though on the quieter second story of the brothel. The accoutrements of the courtesan—the robe, bowl, and special tissue papers for the act—are casually strewn about the scene. The women themselves are nowhere to be found, perhaps because they've joined the festivities. It seems, however, that Hiroshige himself would prefer to stay indoors: he inked the interior in the vibrant tones he usually reserved for his landscapes, giving this quiet moment inside a similar kind of magic.

Ando Hiroshige

Ando Hiroshige is widely recognized as one of the last great masters of the ukiyo-e tradition. Born in 1797 in Edo (now Tokyo), Hiroshige worked as a fire warden until 1812, when he began studying under Toyohiro, a renowned painter. He was considered a rebellious student: instead of choosing to focus on popular ukiyo-e subjects like beautiful women and city life, Hiroshige much preferred to travel and paint bold, formal landscapes. This style eventually made him quite popular, allowing him to publish series like One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, and The Sixty-nine Stations... Read More
of the Kiso Kaidō. At sixty-one, Hiroshige died of cholera at his home in Edo. His total output is estimated to be between 5,000 and 8,000 individual prints. Scholars agree that after Hiroshige's death, the ukiyo-e genre fell into rapid decline when faced with the westernization of Japan at the time. However, Hiroshige's work came to have an influence on Western painting near the end of the 19th century as part of the Japonism trend - even Van Gogh painted copies of Hiroshige's prints.
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