Hiroshige 歌川広重: Night Cherry Blossoms on the Sumida Embankment

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Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige 広重 (1797-1858)
Title: Night Cherry Blossoms on the Sumida Embankment 田川夜桜
Date: Ca. 1847-48

“Night Cherry Blossoms on the Sumida River Embankment” (Sumida Tsutsumi yamiyo no sakura).  Three beauties enjoy a spring evening of cherry blossom viewing, standing out against the backdrop of an almost monochromatic shoreline. On the opposite shore we see lights from the windows of restaurants and on the river are many boats gliding along on this popular waterway. The woman on the left seems to be a servant, carrying both a lantern and some presents. The inscription on the lantern reads “Oguraan”, possibly the name of restaurant. The woman to the right gestures with her right hand as if to say “wait for me!”.  We can tell that it still must be quite cool outside, as the women are wearing many layers of robes; they are holding up the front of their outer garments to allow for forward movement. This is a famous design, one that highlights Hiroshige’s skill at seamlessly integrating portraiture with landscape. Hiroshige triptychs that feature beauties are quite scarce indeed, as he seems to have largely delegated this genre to his colleague Kunisada.

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. Minor fold along right edge of each sheet.
Dimensions: ôban triptych (36.1 x 75 cm)
Publisher: Iseya Ichibei
Literature: See Van Vleck Collection, page 195. Illustrated in the “Baur Collection” by Matthi Forrer (1994), plate G565.
Seal: Kiku; censor’s seal of Hama and Kinugasa
Signature: Hiroshige ga