品川汐干狩 (Gathering Shellfish at Shinagawa)
Description: This is a design from Hiroshige's series Edo Meisho Harimaze Zue, which was originally published in 1857. The series includes ten sheets, each sheet made up of a group of small designs; it seems that they were designed to be trimmed apart after printing.
There is an interesting story associated with this series of prints ... A few years ago, researchers were working in America in the archives of Frank Lloyd Wright (the architect of the original Imperial Hotel here in Tokyo). Wright was well-known as a collector of Japanese prints, and spent huge amounts of money on them each time he came to Japan, back in the early part of the century. The researchers came across a number of stored bundles, and when they were opened, they were found to contain carved woodblocks from the Edo period - the blocks for this very same series. It seems that Wright, out of curiosity perhaps, bought them from a dealer, and the blocks were thus saved from destruction in the great Kanto earthquake a few years later.
They were found to be in quite good condition, and of course somebody came up with the idea of re-printing them to make a new edition of Hiroshige's prints. After many discussions, the blocks were sent back to Tokyo, where one of the modern print publishers made 200 copies of each of the prints. It is interesting to think about what to call those prints. They can't really be called reproductions, because they were printed from the original blocks, but they aren't really originals, because Hiroshige has been dead for well over a hundred years ... (Our Mokuhankan print is made from newly-carved blocks, of course ...)
Note (1): This print was originally published by David in his Surimono Albums series. He made approximately 200 copies of each of those prints, and distributed them only in album form, never as single prints. It is his idea that after the 200 album sets of any particular album have been sold, the blocks (still in absolutely perfect condition) could then be used to produce prints to be added to the Mokuhankan catalogue, with the printing being done by hired craftsmen working under his direction. The first Surimono Album is now out-of-print, and this is one of the designs from it.
Note (2): The blocks have not yet been sent out to anybody else for printing; the print you will receive if you order one of these is one left over from David's own original edition ...
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