A Shoal of Fishes

Title: A Shoal of Fishes
Creator: Hiroshige, Ando
Culture: Japanese
Work Type: color woodcut
Material/Medium: ink on paper
Date: 1840
Measurements: Image 26 x 36 cm
Repository: Wetmore Print Collection, Art History Dept, Cummings Arts Center, Connecticut College, New London
Description: “A Shoal of Fishes” is a Japanese woodcut created in 1840 by Hiroshige who captures the spirit of a red and a blue fish swimming together in a light blue body of water. The focal point of this piece is indubitably the blue and red fish, the former of the two lays horizontally with its tail pointing towards the bottom right corner of the print. Additionally, the red fish is depicted to be behind its companion, angling its body down towards the bottom left corner of the print. In the upper-left and upper-right corners of the 26 x 36 cm print appears to be two poems. The inclusion of these poems significantly reduces any remaining empty space in the piece without making the overall artwork feel crowded. The use of such bold and opposing colors for each fish serves to emphasize their wild and independent nature especially since they reside in a marine environment. The fish also embody the harmonious cosmic balance of nature through their contrasting colors, red representing yang and blue depicting yin. Another contrasting element in this piece is the comparison between each meticulously and precisely detailed fish to the remaining aspects of the print, such as the water, that seem to be completed with as few brush strokes as possible. As well as the spontaneity of the ink strokes, the implementation of the poems in the empty space of the piece substantiates this print as a literati artwork with its emphasis on the humanities within the piece.



Author: Sofia Di Scipio

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