Re: Hiroshige "quits Bijin-ga at age 26" : 2 references ...

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Posted by John Fiorillo on September 30, 2002 at 18:49:32:

In Reply to: Hiroshige "quits Bijin-ga at age 26" : 2 references ... posted by Peter Gallagher on September 28, 2002 at 15:25:08:

Peter and Dick,

Putting aside the debate over defining 'bijin-ga', I find that Stewart's comment indicates primarily that Hiroshige's fame was to be found in landscape prints. No one should have difficulty with such a statement. Obviously, Hiroshige's most notable achievements occurred overwhelmingly in landscapes (‘fûkeiga’).

What I cannot accept are comments like the one in the Jackson Gallery catalog that Hiroshige designed landscapes "exclusively" after a certain date. Throughout his career, even after the early productions of actor and beauty prints ceased to be his primary interest, Hiroshige designed, besides landscapes , subjects as diverse as: beautiful women ('bijin-ga'); birds & flowers ('kachô-e'), fish, and nature prints; pictures of history & legend (including court scenes, Chûshingura, Yoshitsune warrior prints, analogue pictures of the 100 poets); comic street-vendor scenes and other humorous prints ('giga'); still life ('surimono'); fan prints ('uchiwa-e', including bijin); multiple-image cut-out pictures (harimaze-e; including mixed panels of landscapes, still life, bijin, legends, kachô-e); envelopes for New Year's designs; erotica (shunga); and picture books ('ehon') on non-landscape subjects (including ‘manga’-like volumes such as ‘Sôhitsu gafu’). To say that Hiroshige abandoned all else for landscape prints is simply wrong.

As we've seen a few quotes in previous responses to this topic, I'll offer, for what it's worth, the following comment, which is more in agreement with my views. It accompanies a brief introduction to a figure-print series, circa mid-1840s, on the 100 poets ('Ogura nazorae hyakunin isshu'), shared with Kunisada and Kuniyoshi. Hiroshige’s contributions include beauties and warriors. The statement does not imply that Hiroshige stopped making landscape prints, of course, but only that he was also engaged in making other types of prints that were popular: "While Hiroshige's output consisted almost exclusively of landscape and kachô-e during the thirties, he followed the general vogue for heroic prints and prints of beautiful women in the forties." [catalogue entries by C. van Rappard-Boone on the basis of research by R. Keyes, in: "Japanese Prints IV - Hiroshige and the Utagawa School" Rijksmuseum, 1984, page 40.]


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