Hiroshige: Moonlit Evening at Takanawa 高輪月夜

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Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)
Title: Moonlit Evening at Takanawa (Takanawa tsukiyo) 高輪月夜
Date: ca. 1837-38

Peaceful tanzaku design of geese flying in formation against a full moon, with boats floating at harbor at left and the edge of a restaurant glimpsed at bottom. Despite the challenges of this narrow format, Hiroshige here communicates the atmosphere of Takanawa on a summer evening in the Edo period very effectively. Notice how this master of design has used diagonals throughout the picture; this was a special predilection of the artist. The National Diet Library of Japan has this to say about this location during the Edo Period: “Takanawa was the name of the eastern part of present day Minato Ward centering on the Tokaido Highway, with Shiba to the north and west and Shinagawa to the south. There are several theories on the origin of the area name, including one that says it is an abbreviation of "Takai nawate" (high footpath). It is said that on the 26 day of January and July the image of the three honorable ones, Amitabha Buddha, Kannon and Seishi, can be seen in the moon, and people would wait for the moon to appear and pray during the "Moon-waiting until the Twenty-sixth night", and it is said this was particularly popular along the seaside from Takanawa to Shinagawa.” Note that this is a superior impression to the MFA example and is a scarce design.

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Barely visible center fold and thinned area near signature.
Dimensions: 36.5 x 12.1 cm
Literature: See MFA, Sakai, Hiroshige Edo fûkei (1996), list #103.16, pl. 1043; Ukiyo-e shûka 14 (1981), Hiroshige list, p. 240, chûtanzaku #4.15. Quote is from the NDL “The Landmarks of Edo in Color Woodblock Prints” website.
Signature: Hiroshige ga