THE COLOUR-PRINTS OF HIROSHIGE - EDWARD F. STRANGE
Hiroshige illustrated about thirty books. The earliest is entitled "Kando Chiyuzo," and contains illustrations of Chinese Heroes, coloured but in simple style, which the editors of the Memorial Catalogue ascribe to the year 1816. Two years later he did the plates of one of three volumes of humorous poems, "Kyoka Murasaki no Maki," which is of interest not only because the other volumes were illustrated by Hokkei (the pupil of Hokusai) and Toshu, but because therein his eight contributions are signed "Ichiryusai Hiroshige" with a character yu appearing on some of his earliest colour-prints (which can thus be dated), but soon abandoned for a yu written differently but with the same pronunciation. His remaining book illustrations appeared at intervals of a year or two throughout his career ; and, as many are dated, the collector would be well advised to acquire them for the purpose of studying the development of his style and signatures. As already indicated, Hiroshige was very fond of making poems, and especially those of a humorous or satirical nature (kyoka) ; and a considerable proportion of the books are of this kind. One of these is devoted to the Tokaido ("Tokaido Meisho Dzuye," published in 4 volumes, in 1849), and another to the Kisokaido (3 volumes, 1851). In the latter year Kinshodo issued another Tokaido book, "Tokaido Fukei Dzuye," in 4 volumes. The Memorial Catalogue refers to a Collection of Comic Poems on all classes of Society ("Kyoka Yamato Jinbutsu"), in 7 volumes, as "beautifully coloured," but the author has not seen it. One might hazard a guess - or perhaps a wish - that the illustration therein of an "Old Man Painting" (Plate 264 of the Catalogue) was a self-portrait - as, indeed, might well be the "Old Man enjoying Sake," a kakemono with a comic poem by that Taihaido Donsho who commissioned the "Yedo Kinko Hakkei." The reproduction in the Catalogue, No. 285, certainly suggests it.
Two other of the illustrated books have unusual interest, namely, "Yedo Miyage " (Souvenirs of Yedo), issued between 1850 and 1867 by Kinkodo ; and a little copy-book for children, "Tebiki Gusa," from the Iseya firm in 1849. The first began as a series of 4 volumes only, distinguished by the names of the Four Winds, instead of by numbers, in the first edition only ; later editions have the usual numeration. Each of these is dated 1850. Two additional volumes (undated) were then added to the scheme, the 6th having a synopsis of the contents of the whole set as it then stood. After an interval, apparently, the series was further extended by a 7th volume, the work of the First Hiroshige, but also without a date ; but it was not until 1861 that volume 8 appeared, with a tribute to the memory of the master and a plain statement that the plates were based on sketches left by him - valuable evidence as to the accuracy of the suggestions already put forward in this book on the subject of the relationship between Hiroshige and his pupils. This, which is unsigned, was probably done by Shigenobu. Volume 9 appeared in 1864, with Shigemasa's signature ; and the series was concluded in 1867 by the same man, under his name Rissho. There is a considerable falling off in the style of the last three as compared with that of the first volumes. Shigemasa, claiming the title of Second Hiroshige, is very proud of having depicted "even the foreign military exercises" - at that time the most potent and disturbing factor in Japanese politics. Each of the volumes is furnished with a preface, written, with one exception, by literary men engaged for the purpose. These are of such interest that we have thought it well to give the translations following.
(Translation of Prefaces)
Vol. I. In olden time, during Horeki era (1751-63) one hundred
years ago, appeared the original "Yedo Miyage," first illustrated
by Nishimura Shigenaga, succeeding volumes by Suzuki Harunobu. They were
much liked, and in fact were called the origin of picture books. Unfortunately,
one year, during a fire, the blocks and all [the edition ?] were turned
to ashes. Sad indeed the loss ! for not only did they show the then prosperity
of the Eastern Capital, but also portrayed ancient customs. But the famous
places still remain, though changed by lapse of years ; and on careful
consideration, the book-seller Kinkodo has brought out this (as it were)
revival of the edition, illustrated from life by Hiroshige at the publisher's
request. They will be a valuable present to take to distant or even foreign
countries, and it is interesting to compare the modern with the old.
Now, on the eve of publication, by request, with hasty brush I write these few lines as preface.
Kanoye Inu - Dog Year (1850). - Early Autumn. KINSUI CHINJIN, Writer.
Vol. II. [The translation is difficult, as there is a play
on words, an allusion to a poem in which the poet writes of the Eastern
Capital as being in a vast moor (No), the moon rising in Musashi
Moor (No) and setting in No, the capital.]
When rain falls on Musashi No not all the ground is wet, for vaster than the raincloud are the grounds of No [the Capital]. No longer the No of the poet, more numerous are the houses than the rushes of the fields. In some places the streets are wide, but in general, the moon (now) rises between roofs, and sets between roofs,-so populous is the city, so great has it become.
The inhabitants both young and old enjoy the constant changes (and growths) and the new interesting places.
Hiroshige, selecting the best scenes, with his exquisite touch has so wonderfully portrayed the city, that his pictures seem better even than the real sights! If one has never seen Yedo, to look at this book is sufficient :- the best miyage this to take home or abroad.
Kanoye Inu - Dog Year (1850) - on a Summer Day. SHOTEI GIYOFU, Writer.
Vol. III.- Different provinces differ as to the character of
their famous places : in Yamato there are old historical places, likewise
in Yamashiro surrounding Kyoto the ancient seat of royalty, but in Yedo
increased civilization increases the number and variety of interesting
In the Ise Monogatari, a poem runs :- Miyoshi no no tanomu no kari :- "Beseeching the wild geese of Miyoshi Moor"; I am told that is near Kawagoe, but this is known only to few, because they are far from Yedo.
You easily see the growth near you : Buddhist and Shinto temples - magnificent buildings multiply and add to the wealth and power of the city. Witness Tairei Kinryuzan and Sano Kanda, temples.
Already have the first and second volumes appeared; now that the third is ready for publication, by request, I have let my brush write this preface.
Kanoye Inu - Dog Year (1850) - Middle of Autumn. KINSUI DOJIN, Writer.
Vol. IV.- This work has now reached its 4th Volume. All views
are drawn with fidelity to nature, with exact truth. Of course rather
freely and unskilfully, but it may amuse children or serve as lesson books.
Landscape foliage and letterpress are treated in a sketchy manner : were
I to put in everything minutely, the scenes would be crowded with people,
and some places would look like a well-used ant-track. In future volumes
will be depicted fine temples, types of people, stories, warehouses and
shops, presented as if actually before you. Criticize the work if you
like, but I trust you will desire it and purchase it !
Written in Kanoye Inu - Dog Year (1850) - Beginning of Winter. ICHIRYUSAI HIROSHIGE.
Vol. V. Many are the noted places and sights of Yedo, more than a hundred, and yet varying view points increase the number, but it is unnecessary to enumerate all and the many temples. In all seasons are they depicted, to suit all tastes. Hiroshige's relation of the far and near (perspective), the relative sizes of houses, horses, and people (sometimes mere dots), are very accurate and unmistakable. So faithful and forceful are his pictures that strangers will see it just as if they dwelt in the Capital.
Written by :-KINSUI CHINJIN. (No Date.
Vol. VI. [After referring to plays, and music, the writer says
:] Hiroshige Daijin, depicts landscapes, grass, trees, birds and animals
so faithfully, that on looking at the views one seems to be alive amidst
This completes 6 Volumes written at the request of Kinkodo, by : SHOENSHU ZINBAIGEN. (No date.)
At the end of this Volume is a synopsis of contents of the 6 Vols. as follows:
Vol. I. Many noted places of Yedo, to show to strangers its many beauties, hence entitled Yedo Miyage - Souvenir of Yedo - a revival after a hundred years [of the old title in new form]. Beginning at the South East, round by Yatsumi Bridge, both banks of the Sumida River, as far East as Yanagi Island, the Hall of the 50o Disciples of Buddha -all are faithfully depicted by Ichiryusai.
Vol. II. Yedo Miyage, by Ichiryusai. Continuing the series in Vol. I, beginning with Fukagawa Hachiman (Temple), via Shin Ohashi to Tsukudajima, where fisher-folk with blazing braziers at the bow attract the fish, as described in the poem : Shirauo-bune Takuya Kagarino Nami wo Fake Kiyomi Gaseki! - ("Where is it that the braziers of the whitebait fishers seem to burn the waves ? 'Tis at Kiyomi Cape!") As of old, when the poem was written, there is no view like it yet! The plum-trees of Omori and Kameido fill its pages with perfume. There is nothing better as a Souvenir.
Vol. III. Continuing the series, we here have Tama River, where cloth is washed, Rokugo River, Haneda Ferry, Ikegami Temple, the evergreen Chiyo Pine, Wild geese flying across Kasumi Gaseki, etc., etc.
Vol. IV. In this Vol. are all the places noted for Cherry-blossoms : Kawaguchi Ferry, and the many scenes near Oji, many Cascades, Snow Scenes, all depicted in upto-date views.
Vol. V. From Nihon-Bashi the centre of the city, round by Tori Cho, with Mitsui's Store, Spring Scenes, Summer Cooling, and Famous Gardens, as far as Negishi, etc., etc.
Vol. VI. Famous Temples, Places of Amusement, Boats (hundreds of them in the river), both sides of the Yanagi-Bashi tea-houses, etc., etc. Such opulence and beauty is not to be seen in Korea or China !
Vol. VII Preface reads : "Once a mulberry patch, now a
sea" - truly in this changeable world nothing remains immutable!
As the poem says, "A deep pool may change to the rapids of a river."
When this work was planned the Six Volumes were thought to contain all
the views, but now not only going thirty miles outside of the city, but
old places changed require new pictures, so faithfully drawn that everyone
at once recognizes the localities. The artist wields the brush of great
Written by KINSUI DOJIN. Seal: SHOTEI. (No Date.)
Vol. VIII. Ichiryusai Hiroshige was a noted pupil of Toyohiro, the Ukiyoye-shi (painter). He originated his own style, and depicted landscape, flowers and birds, instead of real (or classical Kano) pictures, for which his name is renowned. Why did not Heaven grant him longer life? To die only a little over 50! This series of Yedo Miyage, the work of years, used as presents to far-off places, with Volume added to Volume has now extended to 8. It is now a memorial of him (since he is dead), but from sketches left behind are these views reproduced. On my own behalf I beseech the patronage of the rich, the princely, that they procure the work to look at from time to time, in different seasons, for their amusement.
Dated : Kanoto Tori. Middle Autumn (1861). Written by SHOTEI USO.
Vol. IX. [On title page are two signatures : Hiroshige fude
and Shigemase fude, the latter perhaps the signature of the vignette].
Everyone likes pleasant things ; the one who does not is unique. Yedo is a great city, full of noted places and brilliant scenes. All who see it wish to relate its wonders. Words or letters cannot describe its beauties ; nothing is better (for that purpose) than pictures. A few years ago the Master Ichiryusai was asked to prepare pictures for to Volumes. This is the 9th. Vol. X is almost ready for publication in a few days. The series is in fact a biography of the artist in brush-work. Whoever sees the series, enjoys the sights as if he were actually among them.
Kinoye Ne (1864). Composed by YANAGI NO MON SHUJIN SHUNSUI.
Calligraphy by CHIKIDO.
Vol. X. Great is Yedo! Views in the Four Seasons. This is the
final one of 10 volumes. As a great poet, Bashio, said : Yukimi ni
korobu tokoro made. - ("In viewing snow - watch it till it has
all fallen." [i.e. get the whole set from start to finish.] "After
the snow has stopped the earth is like silver.") Whoever loves pictures,
this book will be found the best to give them. The Second Hiroshige
Rissho is certainly successful in his brush-work - we see even the foreign
military exercises. Kinkodo may well be proud of Yedo Miyage.
Hinoto U (1867). Composed by YAURA ITSUJIN.
Calligraphy by RIUSO CHUIN.
The second of the books here mentioned is the first volume of a projected series which does not seem to have been continued. It was issued by Iseya in 1849 and consists of 36 pages of colour-prints of flowers and fishes, with one landscape, put forth specifically as copies for the use of children. It was always customary for Japanese children to be taught drawing from copies. Dexterity with the brush was the object sought for ; and extraordinary skill was attained in this respect. But the wonderful drawings of plant and animal forms which have captured the admiration of Western educationists, and have been made the subject of so many sentimental sermons on the advantages of studying Nature, were all done in this way - from copies of drawings by long-forgotten artists handed down from generation to generation. Japanese art students did not go to Nature. The fact that Hiroshige did so, stamped him, in the eyes of the elect, as a somewhat vulgar revolutionary. However, he made this small contribution to the process - and, perhaps, abandoned the competition with stereotyped formulae in despair. The Victoria and Albert Museum is so fortunate as to possess the whole of the original drawings for the printed book - that is, those first studies from which the engraver's clean drawings have been made. They include an interesting statement of some of the principles which underlay his methods, written by himself on the several pages. He, at all events, would send the children to Nature, "adding slightly an artistic idea in the brush-work"; and the "ideal treatment" is to be based on the "accurate copy." The reference to the Japanese equivalent of the pencil - the "Yakifude" - is also of interest. It is tantalizing that we have not his second volume, dealing with landscape. The author has never seen it; and Mr. H. Shugio, a keen student of Hiroshige's work, who has specialized in the collection of his books, was only able to describe the first volume in the Memorial Catalogue. The translation of the artist's notes which follows was made by Mr. H. Inada.
YEHON TEBIKI GUSA (A Drawing-hook of Plant Form)
1849 - Publisher, Iseya.
Introduction. The way to paint pictures is to copy from Nature, but adding slightly an artistic idea in the brush-work. The publisher has asked me to publish my pictures of grasses, flowers, fishes, etc., which I have painted for amusement. I have accepted his offer and now issue this book, for the purpose of giving hints to children who wish to paint, though they have not yet begun to paint regularly in classes. Those grasses, trees, fishes, etc., which are not illustrated in this volume will be published later in successive volumes. Signed, Ichiryusai.
(1) Accurate copy of Fukujuso, with the same drawn in So-hitsu
or quick brush-work style. In the case of quick brush-work painting, each
petal should be painted in this manner with one stroke of the brush.
(2) Accurate copy of Sakuraso. There are several kinds of this plant, here the easiest one is chosen for children. Also an ideal treatment of the same. The flower to be done in pink colour, each petal with two strokes of the brush, the leaf in green or grey with a few strokes of the brush and the lines or nerves to be drawn afterwards.
(3) Himeyuri (lily) and Sumire (violet) accurately drawn with brush-work drawing of the latter.
(4) Ajisai (hydrangea) drawn accurately and also in brush-work style.
(5) Wistaria as above.
(8) Na no Hana (rape).
(9) Giboshi, the mauve colour of which is seen in May to June and looks like a kind of lily. Also Suge, a sort of rush.
(10) Kikyo, single and double. Light purple with white lines.
(11) Asagao and Hirugao (convolvuli).
(12) Fuyo (hibiscus) painted accurately.
(13) Susuki, autumn grass in brushwork style.
(14) Shukaido (begonia) and Mizuhikigusa in both styles.
(15) Suisen (narcissus) in both styles.
(16) Rice and Karukayaso drawn in both styles.
(17) Chrysanthemum and Hiogi in both styles.
(18) Cherry-blossom to be painted with white and pink. There are many different kinds, the one illustrated only gives a general idea. The petals are generally irregular. One must not draw flowers in too regular a form.
(19) To draw a Tai fish quickly. First draw the upright lines with Yakifude [i.e. stick of soft wood burnt at the top and used instead of a pencil before the Meiji period]. The head to take ¼ of the space, 2/4 for the body and ¼ for the tail, an extra 1/8 being taken for the ends of the tail. Next draw the horizontal line and fix the proportion of the eyes, mouth and fins. The proportion differs in different fish as illustrated afterwards. Accurate drawings of Tai fish and Hobo.
(20) Akauwo (red fish). Proportion : 2/7 for head, 4/7for body, 1/7 for tail. Fine scales
all over the body. Also Tai fish in brush-work style.
(21) Aji fish. Proportion : ¼ for head, ¾ for body. Drawn in both styles.
(22) Mother of pearl oyster and Sayori fish. These do not require diagrams. Drawn
in both styles.
(23) Ayu (mountain trout). Proportion in 5 except the tail. Drawn in both styles.
(24) Tobiuwo (flying fish) Minokasago, and Hirame (sole).
(25) Fugu (poison fish) and Mouwo. Proportion : 1/3 for head, 2/3 for body. Fine scales. Drawn in both styles.
(26) Carp - scales to be painted with black and grey, shaded somewhat darker on the back, then apply light yellow.
(27) Proportions for carp : ¾ for body, ¼ for head. The head to be divided into 4 parts as shown. Central line of scales is divided to make 36 principal scales. Drawn in both styles.
(28) Katsuo. Proportions in 4 parts, the tail having two. These fish are in many colours, namely red, black, brown, etc. Drawn in both styles.
(30) Crab. Drawn in both styles.
(31) Lobster and shrimps. Drawn accurately.
(32) Lobster and shell-fish in brush-work style.
(33) Tortoises. Drawn in both styles.
(34) In landscape painting there is also proportion to be explained in the next volume.
(35) [The illustration is a fine view of Fuji seen from the flat land at its feet. The
drawing is in line only ; but the published print is in full colour.]
(36) Dried fish hanging on a tree. Signature, Ichiryusai, seal, Hiroshige.
Hiroshige published, in 1851, a set of Tokaido Views in book form, to which reference is made on pp. 51-2 and a translation given of the preface, etc.