Japanese Woodblock Print Hiroshige Omi Hakkei ca. 1834
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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Woodblock Prints: Pre 1900: item # 1226377
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Brian Page Antiques
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|Rare Japanese Woodblock Print by Hiroshige Ca. 1834 Edo Period 15 x 9 3/4 ins. (38.1 x 24.8 cms) This design is widely regarded as one of Hiroshige's master works. It is titled Ishiyama no Shugetsu (Autumn Moon at Ishiyama) from the famous series Omi Hakkei no Uchi (Eight Views of Lake Omi) published ca. 1834 by Hoeido, the publisher of Hiroshige's classic 53 Stations of the Tokaido. The temple to the left is said to be where Lady Murasaki composed The Tales of Genji. Across the lake is the Satta Bridge. On the website ukiyo-e.org 17 examples of this design can be found. The early versions, of which the present example is one, are printed only in black and shades of blue and grey (excepting the seals and cartouches). The use of Berlin Blue, a European pigment only then recently available to printers, had been popularised in Hokusai's ground breaking series of 36 Views of Mount Fuij, published from 1826/33, the early impressions of which had been printed almost exclusively in this new pigment. The Hokusai prints in this restricted pallette had created enormous interest and demand which Hiroshige's publisher, Hoeido, must have been aware of. As with the Hokusai prints, later printings had other colours added. It seems that continual tinkering with these celebrated series was the norm and in the case of the present design the blue sky block has been moved slightly to the right to allow the white paper to highlight the mountain peaks illuminated by the cold light of the moon. Viewing the 17 impressions on ukiyo-e.org on can see that varying degrees of movement of the block have been made by the printer, the present example being the most radical we could find. In the past it has clearly been assumed that this refinement was a printing fault and we came across one impression in a museum where most of the revealed white paper had been inked in, possibly by a later dealer who assumed it was bad registration! The degree of movement of the block can be seen by the lacuna between the frame line and the edge of the blue block on the left hand edge. The effect is certainly very striking and can be seen as an improvement to the design. It is interesting to speculate whether or not Hiroshige ordered the change or whether it was instigated by the printer. The print has fading of the red pigments on the seals and cartouche, the pigments on the main design do not fade. It has been backed to stabilise the paper which has a weak centrefold and slight cracking of the paper here and there. As can be clearly seen in the photos, there are mild stains on the margins and a professional repair to a slight deficiency on the bottom margin just below the village. Please note the print is a slightly warmer tone than the photograph suggests. PLEASE NOTE THIS IS AN ORIGINAL PRINTING NOT A FACSIMILE OR REPRINT|