Re: who? what? when?

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Posted by Thomas Crossland (Uk ( on February 18, 2004 at 06:38:21:

In Reply to: Re: who? what? when? posted by Hans Olof Johansson on February 16, 2004 at 09:48:29:


Your print is clearly a later printing of image #81, "Ushimachi, Takanawa," from Hiroshige's famous 1856-58 series "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo" ("Meisho Edo Hyakkei"), which was originally printed in April 1857. As an aside, the serie's title is a bit of a misnomer, as there's actually a total of 118 views in this popular series.

More to the point, the "margin writing" indicates that your print is indeed from what is know as the "Memorial Edition" printing of this series. We know this from the Japanese date which is seen in your print's TOP left margin, which reads "Meiji 24," or 1891. Additionally, the four "kanji" characters seen bottom left indicate the publisher's name of Kodama Matashichi (active 1881-1894).

Similar 1891 "Memorial Editions" also exist for Hiroshige's two other best known series, "Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji" ("Fuji Sanju-Rokkei") originally printed in 1858, and the Vertical Tokaido Edition of "Fifty-three Famous Views of the Tokaido" ("Gojusan-Tsugi Meisho Zue") originally printed in 1855. (How these later printings came to be know by the name "Memorial Editions" I'm not immediately sure.)

What makes any of these various later "Memorial Edition" printings recognizable from other early edition printings is the presence of the extensive "margin writing" seen in both the right and left margins of these later printings. Also typically apparent was the usage of somewhat brighter pigments which were popular in the mid-Meiji period.

Amazingly, some of these "Memorial Edition" printings were PROVABLY done so still using the ORIGINAL woodblocks which were carved some 30-plus years earlier in the late 1850's. With some of these 1891 printings, we know this beyond any doubt by the distinctive "woodgrain patterns" seen in some of these prints' wider sky or water areas.

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