永代橋雨の夕暮 (Evening Rain at Eitai Bridge)

Designer: Ando Hiroshige | Carver: David Bull | Printer: Kenichi Kubota

Paper size: 16.5cm by 21.5cm | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [M] ? | Currency: $ / £ /

Price: $ 75.00£ 60.75€ 69.00

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Description: This print was included by David in his original Surimono Album (2), published back in 2000. That set is now (nearly) out of print, so the blocks are being used to make issues for the Mokuhankan catalogue, with the printing being done now by the Mokuhankan staff.

We know the exact date that Hiroshige sketched this scene - February 25, 1852. Some of his travel diaries have been preserved, and in one of them we can read about a boat journey he took to Kisarazu. He had left Edo-bashi in the early evening of that day, but as they neared the mouth of the river, ready to head out across Tokyo Bay, their boat was becalmed at Eitai-bashi, and they spent a rainy night there waiting for wind, which picked up in the morning allowing them to continue their journey (they arrived in Kisarazu in the late afternoon.) Presumably Hiroshige used the delay that evening to make some sketches, one of which he used to create this print some time later, when the publisher Dansendo requested a scene for a fan ...

We can see a number of boats moored on the seaward side of the bridge. As boats with tall masts were not able to pass under the bridge, it was at Eitai-bashi that their merchandise had to be transferred to small boats of the type we see being poled down the river on the right hand side of the scene. These 'true-to-life' touches make me wonder if the rest of the picture is also quite realistic. Did Hiroshige sketch these three small boats just as they passed in front of him as he sat looking out over the river, or are they imaginary, made up of images he knew from his familiarity with Edo scenery? We have no way to tell, but I for one would like to believe that the 'camera' of his eye recorded a real scene he saw on the river that night; that those people we see are real men, looking forward to finishing their day's work and getting home out of the rain and into a hot bath. They of course must have had no idea that as they passed in front of the becalmed boat, they had been 'captured' by Hiroshige's brush, and 150 years in the future their picture would be reproduced and sent around the world - travelling far greater distances than they could ever dream of ...

The lines of the rain become embossed into the fine paper ...

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