PRESS AND MAGAZINE COMMENTS ON THE
The newspapers and periodicals in the capital and provinces commented on the memorial exhibition of Hiroshige's productions, all paying a high tribute to the artistic merits of the great genuis and highly appreciating the undertaking. Below I give excerpts of some of those articles.
THE KOKUMIN SHIMBUN.
It was in the year 1858 that the death occurred of Hiroshige I who made himself the pride of the Japanese paintings and who is now universally recognized as a landscape painter of a purely native origin. September 6 falling on the 60th anniversary of the great artist, some adorers of his pictures held a memorial service and exhibition of productions bequeathed by him at the Takashimaya Drapery Store. The exhibition was held in the third story. There was so large a collection of articles that the hall looked too much limited in space, large as it is. The exhibits numbered 280 containing as many as over 1,000 sheets. They consisted of prints, illustrated books, original paintings, sketches, drafts and proof sheets representing all sorts of the productions by the great artist from those of his earlier age such as Momiji-gari (Illustration No. 1.), Watonai (Illustration No. 2) and Kikugorō-no-Sukenari (Sukenari represented by the actor Kikugorō) and other human figures to those of his declining years. The famous
Eight Views of Omi certainly elicits a great
Monkey Bridge, a vertical print consisting
of two sheets, though a little dark in colour owing to age, is a rare
object of wonder. A large vertical print representing birds and flowers
looks as though it were a reprint because it is so bright in colour. In
short what Hiroshige really was is shown forth more than enough by this
THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN.
The commemorative exhibition of Hiroshige's productions is open at the third story of the Takashimaya Drapery Store at Nakabashi-Hirokōji where the great artist lived until his death. In the corner of the hall there was established an altar on which are placed a household tablet for Hiroshige belonging to Mr. Kiichirō Kikuchi or Hiroshige IV, his seal, death-song in his own hand writing, door-plate, a wooden image of Toyohiro, his teacher, said to have been owned by Hiroshige, invitations issued on the occasions of pictorial meetings held in his days. On the opening day of the exhibition at 2 p.m. there was held a religious service before the altar according to Buddhist rites. The Exhibition is to be kept open to the general public till the 8th. The exhibits are composed of 214 prints, 24 illustrated books, 13 original paintings, and 24 sketches, drafts and proof sheets. They are all representative productions of the great artist. The hall was filled to overflowing by visitors including men of note both public and private. At 3 o'clock there was opened a lecture meeting for the commemoration of the soul of Hiroshige. After an opening address was given by Mr. Shōzaburō Watanabe of the Hiroshige Association, lectures were delivered by Messrs. Minoru Uchida and Yone Noguchi who are both well-known students of Hiroshige.
THE CHŪŌ SHIMBUN.
The exhibits contained almost all the well-known productions of Hiroshige such as the Tōkaidō Gōju San-tsugi (the 53 Stations on the Tōkaidō), the Kiso-Kaidō (Kiso Highways), Tōto Meisho (Sights of the Eastern Capital), Honchō Meisho (Sights of Japan), Tsuki-Nijū-hakkei (Twenty-eight Moonlight Views), etc., etc. The most attractive of all are the Takanawa-no-Tsuki (Moon at Takanawa), Ryogoku-no-Tsuki (Evening Moon at Ryogoku) which are both a part of the Tōto Meisho, and belong to Mr. Tatsujirō Nakamura, the Tsubaki-ni-Jūshimatsu (Camellia and Small Bird) a panel print possessed by Mr. Happer, the Hagoshi-no-Tsuki (Moon behind Leaves) one of the twenty-eight Moonlight Views exhibited by Mr. Kenichi Kawaura, the Akihayama-no-Ame (Rainy Scenes of Mt. Akiha) a part of the Honcho-Meishō belonging to Mr. Minoru Uchida and the Shijō-no-Yusuzumi (Enjoyment of the Evening Cool at Shijō) a part of the Kyoto Meisho (Sights of Kyoto) owned by Dr. D. L. Reidhaar. Mr. Minoru Uchida, an authority on Hiroshige, says that never before has there been displayed such a large collection of Hiroshige's works of art though the promoters regret that the scheme was too suddenly launched to allow them to make full preparations.
THE TOKYO MAINICHI SHIMBUN.
The promoters of the exhibition are all authorities on colour prints. This alone speaks more than enough for the fact that the exhibits over 300 in number, are all the choicest of the great artist's works. The most attractive of all is undoubtedly the scenes of the 53 stations of the Tōkaidō which must have surely enchanted the admirers of Hiroshige.
THE TOKYO ASAHI SHIMBUN.
The exhibits numbered some 280 consisting of the representative productions of Hiroshige such as the Tōkaidō-Goju-Santsugi (Fifty-three stations on the Tokaido), Kiso Kaidō (Kiso Highways), Tōto Meisho (Sights of the Eastern Capital), Honchō Meisho (Sights of Japan), Omi Hakkei (Eight Views of Omi), Views for Twelve months of the year consisting of twelve narrow panels possessed by Mr. Happer, pictures of beautiful women, actors, warriors, birds and flowers and landscapes owned by Mr. Seishichi Matsui. In a separate quarter, there was established an altar on which were placed the household tablet for Hiroshige, a register of the dead members of the family of Ando, the death-song of Hiroshige, short sword worn by him, his door-plate and seal. Behind the altar, there were hung up invitations to pictorial meetings of his days and kakemono composed of separate sheets of various pictures. At 2 o'clock in the afternoon, there was opened a religious service before the altar.
THE HŌCHI SHIMBUN.
Among others Mr. Happer's collection attracted most attention. He certainly deserves the fame of a great authority on Hiroshige. The most prominent of his treasures are the Fujikawa-no-Sekkei (A view of the Fuji River in Snow) and Botan-no-Kujaku (Peony and Peacock). Among other attractions are the Tōkaidō Gojū San-Tsugi (Fifty-three Stations on the Tōkaidō) Toto Meisho (Sights of the Eastern Capital), Yodogawa (the Yodo River), Karuizawa, Nakatsugawa-no-Ame (The Nakatsugawa in Rain), Awa-no-Naruto (Rapids of Awa-no-Naruto) and Kiso Sekkei (Kiso Mountains in Snow). As for humorous pictures, the Kitsune-tsuri-to-Oharame (Illustration, No. 170) was most inviting. Of various illustrated books on view, Mr. Shugyo's collections are most prominent.
THE YOROZU CHŌHŌ.
The exhibits consist of about 200 prints and 60 Illustrated books, original paintings, sketches, block copies and proof sheets. They comprise all the representative works of Hiroshige such as two of the sights of the eastern capital or the Ryogokubashi-Yusuzumi (Enjoyment of the Evening Cool at Ryogoku Bridge) and the Takanawa-Yusuzumi (Enjoyment of the Evening Cool at Takanawa), the fifty-three stations on the Tokaido, the Monkey Bridge, the Fuji River in Snow, the Rapids of Naruto, the Kiso Highways in Snow etc. The exhibition is certainly worth visiting for every one. The name of Hiroshige is at once associated with Hokusai. Man's views of nature are best represented by these two great artists. Hokusai is the Hokuga school in style with something of the manner of western drawing, depicting nature with hard and brilliant sharpness while Hiroshige characteristically endorses the style of the Maruyama school which represents the Nanga and is somewhat European in the mode of drawing, representing the delicate and graceful side of nature. To compare these two great artists and decide the superiority of one to the other is indeed a very difficult task. But this we can say, that the deep love of nature characteristic of our nation is shown in Hiroshige's productions and not in Hokusai's. In this respect the former's works appeal more deeply to our hearts than the latter.
In his productions we see that colour, line and composition are all doing excellent service in their own way. The compositions are especially wonderful in variety and accuracy. They alone portray more than enough the extraordinary genius of his art.
THE ŌSAKA ASAHI SHIMBUN.
At the Takashimaya Drapery Store Tokyo, the Hiroshige Association held an exhibition of Hiroshige's productions for three days commencing September 6 falling on the 60th anniversary of the death of the great artist. The exhibits numbered about 280 pieces comprising all his representative pictures such as the Fifty-three Stations on the Tokaido, the Kiso Highways, Sights of the Eastern Capital, Sights of Japan, Eight Views of Omi, etc. In a separate quarter there were put on display a register of the dead members of the House of Ando, Hiroshige's death-song, his image, his short sword, door-plate and seal.
THE OSAKA MAINICHI SHIMBUN.
September 6 being the 60th anniversary of the death of Utagawa Hiroshige, the famous Ukiyoe painter, the interested parties concerned commemorated the event by opening an exhibition of his productions at the Tokyo Branch of the Takashimaya Drapery Store. The exhibition remains open for three clays. One would think that Hiroshige who was a Yedokko, native of Yedo, now known as Tokyo, ought to have little concern with Kyoto and Osaka. But the case was otherwise. The scenes of those western cities appear to have strongly appealed to his fancy. This is shown by the fact that among the exhibits are many representing the sights of these two districts.
THE INPAKU JIHŌ (Published in Tottori).
With the growing popularity of the Yedo-ye (Pictures by the Edo artists) Hiroshige's works especially his landscapes are getting to be in great demand. It appears that many dealers are coming to these quarters for the purchase of the great artist's productions. It is a matter for congratulation that the public has thus been awakened to the real merits of the native art. As for the study of Japanese pictures in Great Britain and France, they first took up the Ukiyoe and then the Kōrin school and finally the two schools of the Nanga and Hokuga. There has of late sprang up a new school of painting in the West maintaining the spiritualistic principle of the Oriental style. The judgment and admiration of Hiroshige is not, however, in decline in Europe. On the contrary, he is still the object of high admiration among large circles of society. In Germany even there have been organized companies for the sale of Hiroshige pictures. This shows how universally he is recognized as a great artist and also the fact that he is far above all other Japanese painters in the services rendered in introducing Japanese civilization to the world at large. In view of such a great fame and the meritorious services of Hiroshige we highly appreciate the undertaking promoted by the interested parties to commemorate the 60th anniversary of his death.
The style of Hiroshige's art has influenced the impressionistic painters in the Occident. Strange to say, these impressionists influenced in turn the junior Japanese artists. Such a great influence of Hiroshige has of late intensified the love of his works not only among foreigners but among the natives as well. The result is the recent astounding appreciation of the prices for the Ukiyoe. It is interesting to note that the Parisian artists who are told of the growing popularity of the Ukiyoe pictures here in Japan, are said to be preparing to re-export some of the works formerly imported from this country. Is this not an interesting contrast to the reimportation of his influence referred to above?
THE NISHIKIE (No. VII).
On September 6, the opening day of the exhibition on which there was held the commemorative service and lecture meeting, we visited the Takashimaya Store accompanied by a photo-expert. On entering the store we were first attracted by drapery of various descriptions with pattens of Hiroshige's choicest pictures put on view in shop windows and show shelves. The Takashimaya has been noted for the skilful application of Hiroshige's producations to fabrics. Their skill was especially markedly shown in those goods specially displayed for this occasion. We went up to the hall in the third story to find a concourse of visitors including numbers of foreigners. The pictures were well arranged in order. This was especially beneficial for amateurs. First in order were placed the works produced in his youth such as the pictures of warriors and actors, then those composed in his prime consisting chiefly of landscapes and finally masterpieces done in his declining years. These were followed by the pictures of birds and flowers and original paintings.
THE UKIYOE (No. XXIX) (Article by Mr. Ichirō
No exhibition has better served to introduce Hiroshige to the public than the recent commemorative exhibition.
The chief characteristic of the Ukiyoe paintings is to he seen not so much in original renderings as in prints. The merits of any prints are to he decided by colours, impression and tone. Prints of Hiroshige's, if perfect in these essential points, are therefore all worth keeping as treasures. If, however, prints are bad in colour, they can never claim to show the spirit of the great artist no matter how good they may he in composition and how inviting in title. In order to introduce to the world Hiroshige, it is therefore imperative to pay the best possible attention to those points in collecting his works. The members of the Hiroshige Association evidently hold the same views as will he seen by the works put on display in the exhibition. This is the reason why the exhibition this time surpasses any similar ones held in the past. The fact is that most exhibitions of Ukiyoe prints hitherto held were promoted by those without the knowledge of these essential points. But this time the promoters of the exhibition are mostly authorities on Hiroshige's works, and they intend to introduce the great artist and his immortal productions according to conclusions drawn from their full experience in the judgment of colour prints. It may be added that the exhibition held this time is not to be classed as a mere display of pictures. It is far deeper in significance showing as it does historical background. This is valuable in itself apart from the qualities of the exhibits.
On the other hand my attention was called to the fact that the exhibits were quite extensive in variety. They comprised the productions of the author's youth, ripe manhood and old age, the pictures of landscapes, birds and flowers, fishes, warriors and manners and customs. They were of various sizes and shapes including large vertical prints consisting of two sheets, and horizontal prints consisting of three sheets, narrow panels of paper, shapes for open fans and folding fans. Besides prints, there were illustrated hooks, blocks, proof sheets and original drawings to which were added various articles commemorative of Hiroshige, such as the family tablet of Hiroshige, his door-plate, short sword and works on Hiroshige by men in later periods. It will thus be seen that there was displayed every thing concerning the great artist. This appears to undermine the essence of the Ukiyoe pictures which can be best seen, as said above, only in prints. But for an exhibition intended to fully introduce Hiroshige to the public, it was quite thoughful of the promoters to display such an extensive variety of things. If there had been exhibited only the choicest of his works, observers would have gained only one-sided knowledge of the great artist and failed to have friendly feelings towards him. Men thus lacking the full knowledge of him and sympathy with him are apt to lack real interest even in his masterpieces. In short it is highly praiseworthy that the exhibition this time fully introduced all sides of Hiroshige while showing most prominently the brightest art of the great artist - a service rendered by no other similar undertaking in the past.
THE JAPAN ADVERTISER (By J. S. Happer).
The darkest place is under the lighthouse runs the Japanese
proverb, and until the last decade the saying has been verified in the
case of Hiroshige. Partly because of the choice of subjects, mainly because
of the cheapness of production, the print artists and their beautiful
works were not appreciated in Japan until after their appreciation in
Europe and America. Especially is this true of Hiroshige. After a sale
in London in 1909, however, where a fairly complete collection of his
works in fine condition brought prices considered to be very high, there
has been a steady increase of interest in Hiroshige among the Japanese.
In August, 1914, Mr. Kojima Usui published a book, descriptive, biographical
and analytical with many reproductions of his prints and most appreciative
comment. So far as is known, this is the only instance of a Japanese print
artist being thus honored by one of his countrymen.
Last year a meeting of Hiroshige admirers was called for September 6 and over sixty attended the meeting. It was then the intention to invite collectors the world over to unite in a grand memorial exhibition, but the war has made that impossible. Fortunately there are still many artistic treasures from his brush remaining in Japan, and those who will may find much to interest, delight and instruct.
Hiroshige especially excelled as the interpreter of Nature in all her moods. Born in Yedo, in 1797, except for journeys to the out-lying provinces to sketch the scenery, he spent his 62 years in Yedo, and how he loved to depict the beauties of his native city!
His first important series, Tōto Meisho, a set of ten full-sized lateral prints, brought immediate praise and appreciation, and the lapse of years has but accentuated their merit. Early in the Tempō era, in 1832, he had unusual opportunity to see more of Japan. In some humble capacity he joined a company of courtiers delegated by the Shogun to escort a horse presented to the Emperor at Kyoto. The cortege proceeded along the Tōkaidō, then much travelled by Daimyo, samurai and retainers who had to spend six months of every year in Yedo, the Shogun's Capital. The journey took many days and was broken by stops at the 53 post stations where horses, coolies, and palanquin carriers were changed or rested. Rapid flowing rivers had to be crossed, often forded or ferried when bridges were swept away by summer freshets, and all along the way Hiroshige must have had plenty of leisure to jot down in his sketch book the sea coast and mountains, the hills and rivers, together with the ever-changing numerous types of people, pilgrims, peasants, princes and paupers, which made life on the highway a kaleidoscope of people of the day.
For years he had trained his eye and his hand, so with marvelous perception and life-like strokes, he transferred all he saw to paper, and on his return he immediately prepared the best known series of The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, which in the original edition, published when completed in 1834 by Hoyeidō, the publishing house of Takeuchi, brought hint instant recognition and assured his fame. This series is the Tōkaidō, but so numerous were his sketches that for many years thereafter other series in varying sizes, shapes and treatment, but no two alike, came from many publishers. How many there are is still a moot point, but at least eighteen are known, besides a small two volume book containing probably his original sketches.
From that time Hiroshige styled himself
Tōkaidō Shige, and
well might he claim that title, for as one turns the pages of the series,
fifty-five prints in all, one sees the stately life of the feudal era,
environed in the scenery for which the Tōkaidō is still justly famed.
Through the magic of his technique, as one gazes, one is blown upon by
storms, cheered by brilliant sunset glow, or made sentimental by pellucid
moonlight, while ever and anon a snowy morning in superb white grandeur
makes one shiver with the realism of the scene.
From the memorial portrait where Toyokuni seems to have caught a lifelike expression, one can detect traces of that kindly humor for which he was loved by his friends. A poet also was he, and many of his bird and flower panels bear stanzas from his pen.
Unlike his contemporaries, after a few prints of actors and fair women, be practically confined himself to landscape, not because the human form was beyond his powers, for when he did introduce figures, whether in large or small prints, he made them instinct with life.
It was Yedo that he loved, however, and series after series of Yedo
views came from his brush: all the favorite picnic grounds, all the seasonal
resorts were depicted by him again and again. The June rains, the autumn
moons, the spring flowers, the New Year sun-rise over the cold water,
Fuji looming white over the dark morning mist - all these scenes were
treated not only with fidelity to nature but. with the loving sympathy
of a true Yedokko, a son of Yedo. There are over fifty different series
of these Yedo views, but his greatest series is the one just completed
before his death, Meisho Yedo Hyakkei, The Hundred Views of Yedo.
is here a round number as there are 118 plates in the series, and when
found in early impressions and in good condition they are the great treasure
of the discriminating collector.
But why try to describe the indescribable? To understand his work is easy, to see is to admire, and those who attend the exhibition, are sure to join the ever-increasing number of Hiroshige admirers.