Object of the Month - January 2020
Title: Akabane in the snow
Series: Fifty Three Stations of Tōkaidō
Material: Wood block print; ink and colour on paper
Period: 19th century CE
Artist: Hiroshige(1797 – 1858)
Acc. No.: 22.1215
The Tōkaidō highway (Eastern Sea Route) between Kyoto and Edo(now Tokyo), built in early times, rose to prominence at the beginning of the 17th century CE with the selection of Edo as the military capital of Japan. This highway is divided into 53 convenient stages or rest steps, with inns and restaurants at each. In 1832, Hiroshige was invited to join an embassy of officials to the imperial court. The resulting series of prints Tōkaidō gojūsan-tsugi [Fifty Three Stations of Tōkaidō]; a product of his sketching of the journey, was extremely successful, and led to firm establishment of his artistic reputation. The set of 55 prints (the 53 stations plus the cities of Edio and Kyoto at either end of the highway) in their unique combination of romance and realism, set a new trend in Japanese prints. This series paved the way for depiction of the whole range of Japan’s scenic beauties in a manner that the common person could readily appreciate. When Europe rediscovered Japanese print at the end of the 19th century, Hiroshige gave Western artists such as Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gaugin and Van Gogh a new vision of nature.