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Tokaido Revisited I

 

1 November 2017 - 30 April 2018

 
Dedicated to Grace Hedin, my fifth-grade teacher who must have seen something in me long before I did.
           

The First Image of the Exhibit


        Tokaido Revisited is a series of composites of various images, each representing a different woodblock print, or fragment of a woodblock print by the master landscape artist, Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), selected from among many different versions of his original compilation of 55 prints, first published between 1833 and 1834 as 53 Stations of the Tokaido.  

 

Tokaido Mountains

 

 

    
     

          These composites were first inspired by viewing the marvelous exhibition of five complete sets of Hiroshige’s Tokaido prints at the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, displayed from 6 February to 21 August 2016.  

          As the compiler of these Tokaido Revisited composites, my intention was to recombine some of Hiroshige’s magnificent prints along different thematic lines, unrelated to his original approach of presenting in a linear fashion the 53 stations along the old coastal road linking Edo (modern day Tokyo), seat of the Tokugawa Shogunate, with the ancient imperial capital of Kyoto.

            The first two themes composed, Tokaido Snow I and Tokaido Sails I, were compiled completely from photographs I made of the five series on exhibit at the Muscarelle exhibit, namely Hoeido, Upright (Tate-e), Kyoka, Tsutaya (aka Kichizo), and Gyosho.  Because of the difficulty in capturing good reproductions of the original woodblock prints in the exhibition since those first two compilations were made, I have relied heavily on the images available on the hiroshige.org.uk web site (which was kindly suggested to me by the then assistant registrar of the Muscarelle Museum, Sarah Tew) for the composition of subsequent themes.

            The hiroshige.org.uk web site also provides images of woodblock prints from a number of other Tokaido editions that were not available at the Muscarelle exhibit but which have been incorporated in my subsequent composites, namely: Pairs, Reisho, Jimbutsu, Fujikei, Two Brushes, and Harimaze Zuye. (The Aritaya edition was not employed by me at all as the images were available only as thumbnails on the web site.)

            Various prints in the Pairs edition are attributed to two other ukiyo-e woodblock masters in addition to Hiroshige, namely Utagawa Kunisada and Utagawa Kuniyoshi. I have attempted to make the proper attributions in the more specific notes for each of my composites; the interested viewer is encouraged to visit the wonderful hiroshige.org.uk web site for more specific information on all of these marvelous prints.

            In the images of the Two Brushes edition, the landscape (generally in the upper part of the print) is a Tokaido view by Hiroshige while the larger figures in the foreground are Japanese legends by Kunisada.

            Tokaido Revisited represents a series of 22 composite images covering 17 different themes, namely: bridges, epilogue, ferries, flowers, fords, horses, kimonos, mists, mountains, rain, sails, snow, stations, travelers and toilers, trees, twilight, and winds.

            In the first of two parts of this Tokaido Revisited exhibit, ten of the 17 general themes are presented, namely bridges, ferries, flowers, horses, mountains, rain, sails, snow, stations, and travelers and toilers. The sails and snow composites are the first of two efforts to express both of these themes and are, therefore, composed of only those woodblock prints presented and photographed in the Muscarelle exhibition. The travelers and toilers theme has been broken into four distinct composites, each covering a different, successive portion of the Tokaido road. The first two sections of the road – Edo to Hara and Hara to Fukuroi – are presented in the first Tokaido Revisited exhibit, with the last two sections of the road – Fukuroi to Miya and Miya to Kyoto – being presented in the second Tokaido Revisited exhibit.  

 

The First Image of the  Exhibit

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