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Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo has become as celebrated in the West as it was in Japan in its own time, and already in the final decades of the nineteenth century it was valued by Western collectors and artists for its radical stylistic innovations. Indeed, Vincent van Gogh's oil studies after Hiroshige's own "Kameido Umeyashiki" and "Ouhashi Atake no yuudachi" attest to the fame that this series had achieved within two decades of its completion.
Add to these superiorities, we must recognize this series as Pray for Japan of these days.
It was clear from the start, in the spring of 1856, that the ’One Hundred Famous Views of Edo' would be no ordinary series of Landscape prints. The title alone-Meisho Edo hyakkei, "one hundred views of the famous places of Edo"-suggested something new, first in the curious inversion of the conventional expression Edo meisho ("famous places of Edo"), and second in the promise of fully one hundred separate views, a scale never before realized in single-sheet landscape prints. Also obvious was the commitment of publisher Uoya Eikichi to producing craft objects of exquisite quality, rich in color and elaborate in technique. Finally and most important, the designer was the celebrated Hiroshige, who for close to two decades had virtually monopolized the filed of landscape prints. The artist was now in his sixtieth year, and the care and intelligence that went into the series from the start suggested that he intended this as his last great effort.
It was only after the first twenty prints, however, that the artist suddenly introduced a striking new technique of composition involving enlarged framing elements against a distant background. Combined with the superb printing and with Hiroshige's proven skills at evocative depiction of landscape, this compositional inventiveness guaranteed the contemporary success of the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. By the time of the artist's death in the Ninth Month of 1858, fully 115 views had been published, and, had he lived, the artist would doubtless have been willing to continue further past the promised hundred.
The cumulative portrait of Edo that Hiroshige paints in the 118 views in this series is rich and diverse, offering not only scenic beauty but countless references to history, custom and legend. It is at the same time, of course, a highly selective portrait, celebrating the beauty of the city, the prosperity of its merchants, the power of its ruler and the pleasures of its people. In reality, Edo of course was scarely so ideal; the great majority of the population lived in crowded back-street tenements of which we get not even the tiniest glimpse in Hiroshige's highly main-street-oriented views. The bright colors of the prints also make us forget that, apart from its rich greenery and blue waters, Edo was in general a drab city. The climate, as all who have lived in Tokyo know, was also something less than ideal, with sweltering heat in the summer and chill, dry winds in the winter.
-from (Introductory Essays by Henry D.Smith II and Amy G. Poster)
A part of sales of this product is contributed to the group of the
victim relief of
the East Japan great earthquake and accident of nuclear power plants.