THE FAN COLOUR-PRINTS
One of the most characteristic articles of Japanese personal equipment
is the fan. Before the change of costume and habits which followed the
revolution of 1868, it played a part in the daily or ceremonial life of
everyone, rich and poor, from the Emperor and Imperial Court to coolies.
It was given as a souvenir to parting guests; exchanged with the fan of
a new acquaintance of distinction; presented by a bridegroom to his bride;
or to a youth, as a symbol of good luck, on attaining his majority at
the age of 16 years. On attaining the honourable age of 77 years, an old
man would also be offered fans by his relations, inscribed with the character
ki, which is composed of the numerals 7, 10 and 7. He also would
return the gift in the form of small-sized fans autographed with the same
character. Incidentally, it may be remarked that the attainment of this
length of years was an occasion for a great family celebration. It was
denied to Hiroshige; but it is for this reason that one finds prints by
Kunisada, and in a few cases some in which the second Hiroshige had collaborated,
proudly signed by the former,
Made in his 77th year (1862),
and evidently to be associated with the ki-ju no ga festival.
Apart from certain classes of fans, such as those used by generals in the field, for religious processions and similar special occasions, the fans in popular use were of two kinds: the folding fan, forming the segment of a circle with the apex cut away, which is also commonly used by Western nations (ogi); and the rigid form, also struck from a circle, but with the top and sides cut square and a flattened curve at the base (uchiwa). The latter is believed to be of very ancient Chinese origin, and to have been introduced into Japan, through Korea, in the earliest periods of its history. The invention of the former is attributed to the widow of Atsumori, who became a nun at Kyoto in A.D. 1184, and is said to have devised the folding fan to relieve the father-superior when sick of a fever. The Chinese fan was in common use up to the fifteenth century, when it was generally superseded by the folding form; but the nineteenth century seems to have seen a reversion to the older type, at all events among the class of people to which the Ukiyoye painters belonged, for a large number of this sort must have been made, judging from the examples still sometimes to be found. These fans were often hand-painted and sometimes elaborately mounted with handles and frames of lacquer and other rich material; but those with which we are now concerned consisted of colour-prints of the requisite shape and size, on frames made of a single piece of bamboo, the upper part split to form the ribs and stiffened with a bent strip of the same material. Among the Ukiyoye artists who designed colour-prints for this purpose, Hiroshige is pre-eminent; but Kunisada, Kuniyoshi, and some of their pupils also issued a considerable number, generally in the conventional style of their school. Hiroshige also designed folding fans (ogi).
These prints are rare; for it is obvious that most of them, being made for use, must have been easily worn out and destroyed. Yet they are to be picked up, here and there, and well repay the patience of the collector who is content to wait for his opportunities. Often they bear the marks of the ribs, having been removed from their mounts and cherished by someone who appreciated the artistic value of them; but, now and again, one can find examples free from the marks of usage. That indefatigable collector, Mr. Happer, could include but 9 ogi and 16 uchiwa in the great collection sold in 1909. Only 10 were exhibited in the Memorial Exhibition. Sir R. Leicester Harmsworth has managed to secure about 18 or 20; but it is pleasant to be able to record that no fewer than 130 have been acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, so that visitors to London have there, at all events, an opportunity of studying a representative collection of a phase of Hiroshige's work which merits far more attention than it has yet received. For that reason, we have thought it advisable to devote to this subject a larger proportion of the illustrations to this volume than might otherwise have been the case, at the expense of some of the better-known prints which have frequently been reproduced elsewhere.
For to this class Hiroshige devoted some of the best of his talent. The
forms alone offer a problem to the designer, which is attractive and calls
for a particular effort. But he never fails. The composition is, though
restricted in its opportunities by the rigid boundaries of the object,
inevitably right and perfectly adapted to its purpose. It implies a concentration
of design on a central base, with radiating lines outwards and upwards;
and he either follows or contrasts with these, with a sure instinct that
defies criticism. They cover the ground from his best period to the time
of his death; and display an extraordinary variety of treatment - pure
landscape in the exquisite, restrained and intensely poetic style of the
three great Hakkei, the more vigorous method of the First Tokaido
with its added human interest, birds, flowers, tortoises, and other natural
objects; and a whole series of brilliantly coloured landscapes with the
graceful female figures in which he shows, more than in any other of his
work, a hint of his inheritance from his master Toyohiro. And a word must
be given to the blue prints (aizuri), and particularly the brilliant
Fuji from Schichi-ri Bay reproduced herein and dated 1855
- the powers of the man who made this superb design were hardly failing
These latter are the work of his later years - perhaps the best of it.
But the fans, in date, as well as in style, reflect the whole course of
the artist's career. In the class of blue prints, for example, we can
refer to an example to be placed even earlier than his first Omi Hakkei;
an uchiwa design consisting of three smaller fanshaped compartments
with views of Okina-Inari, Myoken and Ryodai-shi, and published by Marukyu;
while three superb aizuri, from the house of Marusei, the
Full Moon and Plum-blossom and
Cranes and Bamboo - with
which should be mentioned a group of Iris flowers and leaves, in blue,
green and purple, belong to the period of the first and best Flower and
Bird tanzaku. Such as the
Famous Produce of the Tokaido
in black and grey only, and the
Famous Flower-gardens of Yedo,
will appeal to the collector of curiosities; but a print like that reproduced
Eight Views of Post-stations, the Kumagai Embankment
with its distant view of the Usui Pass, challenges comparison even with
the three great Hakkei series and may have preceded them in period.
It is singularly restrained and correspondingly effective - but the contrast
of the winding embankment through the marshes, perfectly in perspective,
with the mass of the mountain, is the sort of success in composition that
is only achieved by an artist of the first rank. The key to the design
is supplied by a device, easy, natural, and yet absolutely convincing
- a veritable epigram of art just a flight of geese descending into the
Everyone who has written about Hiroshige has tried to do justice to his
rendering of rain. There are many famous examples; but to those already
so well known we must add the fan-print from Dansendo's Koto Meisho series
Yeitai Bridge in Evening Rain. Everything is still - under
the oppressive, almost perpendicular downpour. The colours are blurred;
the very river seems drenched; and yet the scene has a beauty all its
own. We owe this and another fan to the visit paid by the artist to Kisarazu,
as related in the diary printed elsewhere in this volume. While, in contrast
with the flowers and birds and landscapes, mention must be made of the
boldly drawn and brilliantly coloured
Cock and Hen with Autumn Flowers
(published by Sanoki); as strong and virile a piece of drawing as is other
of Hiroshige's work tender and delicate. How well, too, he could draw
the figure in motion when he chose is demonstrated by the Kishiu Festival
dance from the series of
Ancient and Modern Festivals in the Provinces.
The young and graceful group of dancers is absolutely alive - here is
nothing of the rigid, statuesque convention that fettered his contemporaries
of the expiring theatrical school.
CATALOGUE OF FAN-PRINTS
Note:- All are uchiwa shape unless otherwise stated. In some cases it has not been possible to do more than give a description of the subject ; but it is hoped that this will help in identification. The numbers of the series are generally not known. The subjects given are the only ones so far noted. All are in the Victoria and Albert Museum unless otherwise stated.
Yedo Hakkei. The Eight Views of Yedo. Publisher, Ibasen.
Night Rain on the Sumida River.
Evening Snow at Asakusa.
Sunset at Ryogoku.
Boats returning to Tsukuda.
Geese alighting at Nippori Marshes.
Weather clearing after Storm at Ocha-no Midzu.
Evening Bell at Uyeno.
Autumn Moon at Matsuchiyama.
Toto Meisui Kagami. Well-known Water Views of Yedo. Publisher Ibasen. Snake Year (1857).
Koganei bank of the Upper Tamagawa River. A woman seated, with gourdbottle; on far side, cherry-blossom and reflections in river. Fuji in distance to left.
Woman on balcony, in a mosquito net, looking at the mouth of the river, with distant bank and sea. Verse :
Every river flows into the sea.
Upper Kanda River in autumn, with reflections of maple in stream. Back view of woman to left.
Toto Katsushika Watashiba Dzukushi. Views of the Famous Ferries
of Yedo. Publisher, Masatsuji. Engraver, Mino. Tiger and Snake
Years (1854; 1857).
Mimeguri Ferry. Woman on balcony overlooking river, with ferry-boats and full moon.
Nakagawa Ferry. Three women in ferry-boat and man on raft.
Hashiba Ferry. Three women under cherry-tree in blossom, on high ground overlooking ferry.
Ommaya Gashi Ferry. Ferry-boat with three women in moonlight Snake Year (1857).
Niishiku Ferry. Two women on balcony overlooking ferry in snow. (Engraver's seal.)
Yedo Kyuseki Dzukushi. Views of Ancient Places of Yedo. Publisher, Marukyu.
The story of Kwannon disguised as a traveller and the old woman and her daughter who used to kill and eat travellers, at the pond of Asakusa.
Legend of Asakusa ; Takenari and Hazinari recovering the golden image of Asakusa in a fishing-net, as revealed to them in a dream.
Yedo Meisho Nenju Gyoji. Various Customs of Yedo at Different
Seasons. No publisher's mark.
Gathering shell-fish at low tide at Susaki ; with three women on a bridge leading to an embankment.
A dancer and two musicians on a balcony overlooking the sea at Takenaga, at night.
Yedo Junan Mitate Gogyo. The Five Elements compared with Views
of Yedo. Publisher, Marukyu.
Fire-a woman with lantern, and fishermen fishing with fire-buckets, at night.
Water-Ocha-no Midzu, with woman in a boat and man on raft. Bridge in middle distance.
Yedo Meiyen. Famous Flower-gardens of Yedo, with the Flowers for which each is famous. In black and grey only on red-lined background. Publisher, Ibasen. Square kiwame mark.
Toto Meisho Somoku Hakkei. Eight Views of Trees and Grasses
at Yedo. Publisher, Masatsuji.
Shubi-no Matsu at Asakusa River. The pine-tree of Shubi.
Mikayeri Yanagi. Willow-tree, moon and snow ; with two women, one with umbrella and one with lantern.
Aoiga Oka. Asi (hollyhock) flowers, waterfall, and three girls with umbrellas. A later edition has different colours and the signature on a white label.
Kinoshitagawa, Kakitsubata. Iris garden with three women visitors on Kinoshita River.
Toto Meichi Fukei. Views of Famous Ponds at Yedo. Publisher, Yamata.. The Shinobazu Pond at Uyeno.
Toto Meisho (fan-shaped title). Views of Yedo. Publisher, Marukyu.
Wistaria Gardens at Kameido Temple.
Toto Meisho. Views of Yedo. Publisher, Marukyu.
Women watching the distant fireworks behind clouds, at Ryogoku, from the monohoshi (drying tower) of a house.
Takanawa ; girls on the beach admiring the evening rainbow. On a notice-board is an advertisement of the publisher, under the name Ibakyu.
Uyeno, Shinobazu-no Ike Hasu-no Hanami. Admiring the lotus-flowers on the Shinobazu Pond.
Toto Meisho. Publisher, Kitamago.
Distant View of Ryogoku from Ohashi.
Toto Meisho. Publisher, Yamato.
Takanawa-no dzu. Picture of Takanawa Kameido Temmangu. Kameido Temple, with wistaria garden and bridge.
Shiba-Ura Hinode-no dzu. Sunrise at Shiba-Ura.
Toto Meisho. Publisher, Ibasen. Snake Year (1857).
The Sumida River, both banks, with sailing-boats.
Toto Meisho. No publisher's mark.
Shiba-Ura from Takanawa, with boats at anchor.
Asakusa Kinryuzan Embo-no dzu. Distant view of the Asakusa Temple in time of cherry-blossom.
Yedo Meisho. Publisher, Sanoki.
Sumidagawa Yuki-no Kei. Snow on the Sumida River.
Yedo Meisho. Outings of the Year. (Publisher's mark
Ryogoku boating. Happer Sale, 347.
Koto Meisho. Publisher, Dansendo.
Yeitai Bridge, Evening Rain.
Various Views of Yedo (apparently not in series).
Seiro Hanami Ryaku dzu. Procession of Yoshiwara women viewing the cherry blossom. Signed, Hiroshige. Seal, Ichiryu. Ogi shape, aizuri.
Fishing at night on the Sumida River, with Mount Fuji and Full Moon. Publisher, Masatsuji.
Sumidagawa Hashiba-no Watashi Masaki-no Yashiro. Temple of Masaki seen from the Hashiba ferry on the Sumida River, in Spring. Publisher, Yamato.
Uyeno, Shinobazu-no Ike. Shinobazu Pond at Uyeno Park. Publisher, Yamato. Signed, Hiroshige gwa Isse Ichidai. (Hiroshige painted only once in his life!)
Okawa Shubi-no Matsu Ryogoku-bashi Yu Suzumi. The Shubi Pinetree in the cool of the evening at Ryogoku Bridge on the Sumida River. Publisher, Yamato.
Yeitai-Bashi Yakei. Yeitai Bridge at Night. Publisher, Sanoya. Seal, Utagawa.
Okina-Inari, Myoken and Ryodai-shi. Three fan-shaped designs on one sheet. Publisher, Marukyu. Aizuri (very early).
Sugita-no Ume-Zo-no. Plum-blossom garden at Sugita, with woman leaning on a kago in which another is seated ; Fuji in distance. Publisher, Sanoya.
Sendagi Hana Yashiki. Sendagi Flower-garden, with women on balcony of a tea-house and lanterns. Publisher, Sanoya. Hare Year (1855).
Yotsuya Shinjiku Tsutsumi-no Hana. Cherry-blossom on Shinjiku bank at Yotsuya, with three women on a balcony. Publisher, Ibasen. Dragon Year (1856).
Tokaido Kawa Dzukushi. River Series of Tokaido. Publisher,
Coolies fording a river; two carrying a woman.
A woman carried across a river in a kago.
Passengers crossing a river in ferry-boats ; in foreground to left, a boat with two women, one in a pilgrim's hat. Harmsworth Collection.
Tokaido Meibutsu Dzukushi. Famous produce of the Tokaido. Various dishes of food. Signed, Ichiryusai (only). In black and grey-very early.
Yokkaichi. Three women in the cherry-garden of a temple with banner and lantern. In distance, above a bank of mist, a bridge and Fuji. Publisher, Sanpei.
Ura Omote Yekiro Hakkei. Eight Views of Post-stations
on the Road. Publisher, Ibasen. Square kiwame mark.
Usui Toge-no dzu, Kumagai Tsutsume-no Kai. View of the Usui Pass and Kumagai Embankment.
Kyo Arashiyama. View of Arashi Mountain from Kyoto. Publisher, Yamato.
Hakone Shichito Dzuye. The Seven Hot Springs of Hakone. Publisher, Ibasen. 3-block print. Signed, Ichiryusai (only). Two scenes in kidney-shaped compartments ; Dogashima (exterior) and a Bathing-house.
Hakone Shichito Dzuye. The Seven Hot Springs of Hakone. Publisher, Ibasen.
Yumoto; with two women travellers coming up the bank from the river.
Tonosawa; the village at farther end of the bridge with mountains beyond.
Ashinoyu; the bathing-house at night, with three women, one carrying a lantern.
Miyanoshita; two women on veranda overlooking rapids.
Tonosawa; two women on veranda overlooking rapids, with maid bringing food.
Yumoto; geisha dancing in tea-house. One of
Three Styles of Amusement. (Hiro. seal.)
Kiga; two women on seat drinking tea; bridge over rapids, left.
Hakone Kojo Fuji. Fuji from Hakone Lake. Publisher, Kinzo. (?)
Tonosawa; Village on farther bank at end of plank bridge, with mountains. Publisher, Marujin. Hare Year (1855).
VIEWS IN THE PROVINCES
Shokoku Meisho. Famous Views in the Provinces. Publisher,
Shimofusa Province. Choshi beach; with cliffs, and Fuji in distance.
Suruga Province. Tago-no Ura. The beach, with Fuji beyond the bay.
Kyoto. Arashiyama in time of cherry-blossom, with three women crossing bridge.
Awa-no Naruto. The rapids at Naruto.
Shokoku Meisho. Publisher, Marukyu.
Yamato Province. Yoshino River with noble on a balcony admiring cherry-blossom.
Shokoku Meisho Dzuye. Publisher, Yamajo. Dragon Year (1856).
Musashi Province. Kanazawa with three ladies (two on a veranda overlooking the river).
Osaka. Sumiyoshi. A houseboat with three women and temple-lantern; the bay in distance.
Shokoku Kokon Sairei Dzukushi. Series of Ancient and Modern
Festivals in the Provinces. Publisher, Yamato.
Kishiu Waka Gosaishiki. The Festival of Kishiu.
Boso Meisho. Kiyozumi Mountain, in Boshiu Province, with women on balcony. Publisher, Masatsuji. Rat Year (1852).
Uraga Bay in Soshu Province; with ships at anchor and tall trees on high ground to left. Publisher, Marujin. Hare Year (1855). Aizuri.
Kai, Kawaguchi Kosui-no dzu. The river entering the lake at foot of Fuji, at Kai. (No publisher's mark.)
Sunshu Mio-no Ura Fukei. View of Miyo-no Ura in Sunshu Province. (No publisher's mark.)
Kadzusa Kisarazu Kaijo-no dzu. The sea at Kisarazu in Kadzusa Province. (No publisher's mark.)
Oyama Waterfall in Sagami Province. Waterfall to left, with large lamp and two travellers. Publisher, Marujin. Hare Year (1855). Aizuri.
Miyo-no Matsubara in Suruga Province. Two women overlooking Kiyomigaseki, with Fuji in distance. Publisher, Sanpei. Rat Year (1852).
Bushu, Kanazawa Suzume-na-Ura; with fishermen throwing a net, and two women in boat. Publisher, Sanoya.
Kataura-no dzu. Women gathering shell-fish at Kataura. Publisher, Fukusendo.
Zozu Mountain at Sanuki; with three women on high path near a pine-tree, overlooking valley with bridge and river. Publisher, Igeta Hisa (?). Dragon Year (1856).
Enoshima Island, with boats on shore. Publisher, Marujin. Hare Year (1855). Aizuri.
Soshu, Kamakura Shichiri-no Hama. Fuji from Shichi-ri Bay, Kamakura. Publisher, Marujin. Hare Year (1855). Aizuri.
Owari Atsuta Shichiri-no Watashi. Shichi-ri Bay with women walking on beach. Publisher, Sanpei. Rat Year (1852).
VIEWS OF FUJI
Fuji Sanju Rokkei-no Uchi. The 36 views of Mount Fuji.
Enoshima Soten-no Fuji. Fuji at dawn from Enoshima.
OTHER LANDSCAPE SERIES
Yedo Meisho Mitate San Ko. The 3 Luminaries of Sun,
Moon and Stars compared with Views of Yedo. Publisher, Ibasen. Dragon
Susaki Hatsuhinode. Sunrise at Susaki ; two women walking on embankment, with other people watching sunrise.
Ryogoku Tsuki-no Sugata. Ryogoku by moonlight ; woman on balcony overlooking river.
Yanagijima Hoshi Matsuri. Starlight festival at Yanagijima. Woman, halflength, on balcony overlooking river.
Meisho Hana Kyodai. Flower series of various places.
Publisher, Sanpei. Dragon Year (1856).
Gotenyama, Cherry-blossom ; two women near a cherry-tree and a pine overlooking the sea.
Ozawa, Peach-blossom (momo) ; two women seated on river bank, with blossoming trees, and Fuji beyond.
Komurai, Plum-blossom ; three women on bank of pond, with plum trees, hill, and tea-house on farther bank.
Two girls at a table, one seated to left, in a cherry-blossom garden, on bank of a river with a man punting; Fuji in distance. Harmsworth Collection.
FLOWER AND BIRD SERIES, WITH POEMS
Publisher, Matsubarado (or Fujihiko, the alternative name) on gourd-shaped
Ogi shape. (Happer sale 327-332.)
Mandarin Ducks and Bamboo in Snow.
Iris and Cuckoo.
Passion Vine and Sparrow.
Birds and Wild Cherry.
Wild Camellia and Red-bill.
Butterfly and Pæonies.
FLOWER, BIRD AND FISH SUBJECTS
Furyu Shiki-no Ikebana. Flower arrangements of the Four Seasons.
Autumn. Chrysanthemum, with kakemono and full moon.
Winter. Narcissus and Sazankwa flower, with kakemono of river, with ducks, in winter.
Children with Kare (flat) Fish on Beach; with woman and basket of shell-fish and distant boats. (Very early, in style of Yeisen. No publisher's mark.)
Stork and Iris. (No publisher's mark.) Harmsworth Collection.
Two Tortoises in Water. (No publisher's mark). Aizuri.
Cranes and Bamboo. Publisher, Marusei. Aizuri.
Nightingale, Full Moon and Plum-blossom. Publisher, Marusei. Aizuri.
Cock, Hen and Basket. Publisher, Marries.
Cock and Hen with Autumn Flowers. Publisher, Sanoki.
Masts of Ships, Cuckoo and Full Moon, with the famous poem, Hitokoye wa Tsuki ga Naitaka Hototogisu. Publisher, Yamato.
Pier of a Bridge, with reflection of Full Moon in the Water
and Poem by Toshishige,
The Autumn Moon is as clear as
parents' understanding of their children. Publisher, Aritaya.
SUBJECTS FROM STORIES
Genji Setsu Getsu Kwa. Series of Snow, Moon and Flower
pictures from the Story of Prince Genji. Publisher, Ibasen. Tiger Year
Saga, with Prince Genji and a lady in a boat, viewing the cherry-blossom.
Kyodai Monogatari Dzuye. Series of Ancient Stories.
Minamoto-no Hikaru in a boat, and full moon.
Soga Monogatari. Shosho, on a balcony, watching the departure of Soga-no
Goro, in Snow.
Uchiwaka Dzuye. Scenes in the Life of Uchiwaka. Publisher, Ibasen.
Uchiwaka and a Lady in a garden by moonlight, a house with lights to right, at Yahagi-no Shuku.
Chushingura Hakkei. The Eight Scenes of the Chushingura
(Story of the Fortyseven Ronin). Publisher, Ibasen. (On the same lines
as Omi Hakkei, etc.)
Yama Michi-no Yo-ame. Night rain on the mountain, with Yoichibei and Sadakuro.
Toritsugi-no Bansho. Evening bell at Toritsugi ; with Rikiya and Konami in the house of Wakas-anosuke.
Onna Sanju Rokkasen-no Uchi The 36 Famous Poetesses. Publisher, Yamato. Ono-no Komachi, seated.
Meiyo Shokunin Zukushi-no Uchi Horimono Series of Famous
Craftsmen. Publisher, Marukyu.
Hidari Jingoro, the sculptor.
Oroku Kushi. Oroku, the first maker of wooden combs.
Goro Masamune, the swordsmith.
Kaicho Asa Mairi-no Dzu Morning excursion to the ceremony
Opening the Curtain at a Buddhist Temple. Publisher, Marukyu.
Tiger Year (1851). Inscribed, Shin Pan (New block).
Mitate Sambaso Women compared with the Sambaso Dance.
By Hiroshige, Kunisada and Kuniyoshi. Publisher, Ibasen. Engraver, Take.
Hare Year (1855).
Woman, half-length, holding small lacquer box, with pine-branches, on pink ground. (By Hiroshige.)
Woman, half-length, holding up kimono, with pine-branches, on pink ground. (By Kunisada.)
Woman, half-length, holding biwa fruit, with pine-branches, on pink ground (By Kuniyoshi.)
UNSIGNED, BUT ATTRIBUTED TO HIROSHIGE I
Fuji seen above a Row of Pine Trees Publisher, Yamato. (In blue and black only, no key-block.)
Fuji from the River at MatsuchiyamaPublisher, Yamato.
The Miryakodori; 3 chidori on stream with reeds, symbolizing the Sumida River. Publisher, Yamato. (In black and white only.)
Kikyo Flower and Ayu Fish Publisher, Marusei. Iris (in blue, green and purple). Publisher, Marusei.
Shinagawa Shore with Stalls and Swimmers carrying a Koshi towards the Boats Mark unknown.
Nikkozan Kegon-no Takei. Waterfall of Kegon at Nikko Mark unknown.
Bushu, Kanazawa Suzume-ga-Ura; with fishermen in foreground and Fuji in distance to right. Mark unknown.
Convolvulus, Pink and Iris, with hanging lamp suspended from bamboo support Mark unknown.
Biwa (loquat) Fruit and Hozuki Mark unknown.
Hollyhock Mark unknown.
Red Plum-blossom, Chrysanthemum and Flower-basket Mark unknown.