Andō Hiroshige
Clearing Wind over Awazu

Signed: Hiroshige ga; Publisher’s seal: Ho’eidō han (Takeuchi Magohachi); censor’s seal: kiwame; ōban, yoko-e, 24.2 x 37.1 cm; nishiki-e with fukibokashi

From the series “Eight Views of Ōmi”. What is unusual about this series is the fact that Hiroshige concentrates solely on the topography of the landscape. The figures in this print, for example the travellers under the trees, are of little importance and seem to disappear in comparison to the the majesty and tranquility of the scenery. The pine-tree lined shore road is the famous Tōkaidō, which passes by the southern end of the lake on the way to the fifty-third station, Ōtsu. In the background, the “Fuji of Ōmi” rises up once again.

F. Tikotin, La Tour de Peilz (November 1964)
Riese Collection #139

In the west this is perhaps one of the most famous and influential of all Japanese prints since it inspired Whistler in his view of Battersea Bridge. One tends to think of Hiroshige as a steady, dignified, rather elderly gentleman, as he appears in his memorial portrait. But here, at the beginning of his career, just turned thirty, we must appreciate the vigour of his imagination as well as the tranquility of his effects. Most artists of the generation preceding Hiroshige had designed prints of Ryōgoku, but invariably they focused their attention on the lively bustle, the crowds of pleasure seekers, and the pleasure boats themselves that plied their way to and fro along the river. Breaking from these restraints entirely, Hiroshige focuses his attention upon the pilings of the bridge, surely the first person to do that, and then, beyond, bathed in moonlight, shows a few small craft resting quietly on the waves, with the darkened houses of a sleeping city on the bank behind.

R139/122   206
Artist: Andō HIROSHIGE
Picture title: Awazu Seiran, “Gentle Breeze at Awazu”.
Series title: Ōmi Hakkei, “Eight Views of Lake Biwa”.
Date: Early 1830s
Signature: Hiroshige ga
Publisher: Hoeidō
Other names: kiwame censorship seal
Reference: Suzuki 323.
Technique: ôban, 24.2 x 36.4 cm.
Quality of impression: good, late impression.
Condition: Light stains and vertical centrefold.
Provenance: F. Tikotin, La Tour de Peilz (November 1964)

Comment: The Eight Views of Lake Biwa stand out in Hiroshige’s oeuvre as the only important series where the designs are proportioned to accommodate the mountains and watery expanses of the landscape rather than the human figure. Their scale, in other words, is large, and such figures as there are, like the travellers amid the trees in this print, are diminutive and do not conflict with the overall grandeur and tranquility of the scene. The set is also interesting for being the joint venture of two publishers. Two publishers appear on other sets that Hiroshige worked on, like the Kisokaidō or the Gyōsho Tōkaidō, but on those sets the blocks changed hands. ON the Eight Views of Lake Biwa, Hoeidō published four of the pictures: Awazu, Seta, Mii, and Ishiyama, and the remaining four were published by Eikyūdō: Hira, Karasaki, Katata and Yabase.

That the set was popular is obvious from the number of late impression like the present one that has survived. Considering its popularity, it is curious that Hiroshige never felt the impulse to design again on this scale. Japanese writers suggest that Hiroshige designed the Eight Views right after the Great Tôkaidô, but perhaps he designed them right after the early Famous Views of the Eastern Capital, intended them as a deliberate contrast to that intimate, painterly set, and then, on the strength of his association with Hoeidō in this set continued on to produce a third set, the Tōkaidō, which invents and explores a third, different style, but which, at the same time, joins certain elements from the first two sets.
Amazu is, perhaps, the least frequently reproduced of all the pictures in the Ōmi series. The broken borderline which has almost disappeared on the right hand side and the broken border around the poem show that the block had been printed many times, but beyond the breaks on the keyblock there are no noticeable state differences between the Tōkyō National Museum impression (Kikuchi 1282), the Takahashi impression (Ukiyo-e Taikei, Vol. 11, no. 153) and this one. The Tōkyō impression is printed with colour rising higher behind the mountains in the background. Another impression is reproduced in Vignier and Inada, Toyokuni Hiroshige, no. 239, pl. LXIII

The poem on this print and others of the series is conventional and is translated, as are the others, in the catalogue of Japanese prints in the British Museum (London, 1916, pp. 238-239)

Reproduced in Ingelheim catalogue, no. 122.