53 Stations of Tokaido [series]–#22 — Okabe, Utsu no Yama

Detail (Natural Elements)

Artist: Ando Hiroshige
Date: 1833-34
Repository: Black Collection, Connecticut College
Size: 25 x 35 cm
Medium: Ink on paper

This woodblock print shows five figures walking on a mountain path alongside a stream. The background displays many beautiful natural elements, such as mountains, woods, and a distant glimpse of the ocean. The five figures appear to be carrying bundles of sticks, separated into two groups and passing each other on the narrow path. There is a small village behind them, and the stream also appears to have been domesticated, as it is cut into the ground in a set path.

This work is similar to scroll and screen paintings in aesthetics, but has a much different overall look. Both this print and other Japanese paintings prevalently feature natural Japanese landscapes, and this is no exception. It includes what appears to be a small sakura tree near the center of the print, a tree with great significance to Japanese art and culture. However, it differs from paintings in its appearance. Rather than using the plain gold background that defined many screen paintings, this piece has a Prussian blue to white fade, a technique iconic to Japanese woodblock printing. Additionally, as rendering details is more difficult in woodcarving than in painting, the details (faces, hands, etc.) on the five figures are much more abstract than had they been hand painted.


Author: Zolenge Bordwin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *