Andō Hiroshige
Amanohashidate in Tango Province
1855, 5th month

Signed: Hiroshige hitsu; Censor’s seal: aratame; uchiwa-e, 22.3 x 28.6 cm; nishiki-e with fukibokashi

From “The Three Scenic Places of Japan”. The Matsushima Islands near Sendai, the island of Itsukushima near Hiroshima, with its Shintō shrine, and Amanohashidate (“Bridge to Heaven”), a narrow peninsula extending into the Sea of Japan in northern Kyōto Prefecture have always been considered the three most beautiful places in Japan. After the economic restrictions during the period around the mid-1840s, Edo experienced a renaissance of good woodblock printing in the 1850s, often with intensely coloured pigments as in this fan print.

S. A. Collet, Vevey (May 1964)
Riese Collection #166

The Three Famous Views of Japan were Matsushima, the cluster of pine-covered islands near Sendai in northern Honshū, the shrine at Itsukushima in western Honshū, and Amanohashidate, the long spit of land sticking out into the Japan Sea, on the west coast of Honshū. Hiroshige designed prints for Amanohashidate and for Matsushima, but no impression of his design for Itsukushima seems to be recorded or described.

In the 1850s Edo saw a revival of extremely fine printing after the economically austere and legally restricted years of the mid-1840s. Printers in this period favoured very intense pigments, like those in this print, and special effects like over-printing to achieve deeper intensities of colour, and a full use of the possibilities of the pattern of woodgrain on colour blocks. The aesthetic behind these prints was extremely different from that which governed the landscape prints of the 1840s, where delicacy, lightness, and transparency of colour were most highly sought after. But Hiroshige either adapted to, or anticipated and helped effect the change, and his landscapes of this period, when they are seen in fine, early impressions, are brilliant.

Reproduced in: Ingelheim catalogue, no. 137.