Kitao Masayoshi 北尾政美: Oversized Bird's Eye View of Edo 江戸 (SOLD)

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Artist: Keisai 蕙斎 (Kuwagata Shôshin 鍬形紹真 Kitao Masayoshi 北尾政美)
Title: Bird’s Eye View of Edo; Edo Kuwagata Shôshin hitsu (Edo drawn by Kuwagata Shôshin: 江戸鍬形紹真筆)
Date: ca 1800-1810

This large, bird’s-eye view of Edo offers an excellent panoramic view and a detailed topographic map of the city. Mt. Fuji anchors the entire scene in the center distance, surrounded by mountains such as Mt. Chichibu and Mt. Oyama. We see the Sumida River in the foreground, flowing into Edo Bay at left.  Crossing the Sumida River (Okawa) , we see four bridges–from the upper reach towards Edo Bay are Okawa-bashi (Azuma-bashi), Ryogoku-bashi, Shin-Ohashi, and Eitai-bashi. In this type of ezu (Picture map 絵圖), the famous places may be recognized; we see  Senso-ji Temple, Shin-Yoshiwara (on the right edge of the picture, namely from Sensó-ji Temple pointing north; before the Òkawa-bashi (Azuma-bashi) to Imado-bashi into the first watercourse, Sanya-bori and then along Nihon-zutsumi to Emon-zaka), and Ueno Kann-eiji Temple with Shinobazu Pond on the west side of the Òkawa-bashi. At the mouth of the Sumida River are the islets Ishikawa-jima and  Tsukuda-jima. Edo Bay is seen stretching towards Shinagawa in this vista. Just before the Ryogoku-bashi, the Kanda River flows into the Sumida River.  Edo Castle is seen roughly in the center below Mt. Fuji, and its outer moat runs into the Sumida River near the Eitai-bashi. Over the course of the outer moat (Nihon-bashi River) the bridge Nihon-bashi can be seen. Many other famous places depicted by Ukiyo-e artists can be recognized, and there are labels in tiny writing identifying many places. This very scarce and detailed map of Edo period Tokyo gives us an astonishing window into the earlier life of the city, and we can place ourselves at many of the locations made famous by Hiroshige and other ukiyo-e landscape artists.

The Ukiyo-e artist Kitao Masayoshi 北尾政美 took the family name Kuwagata in June 1797. Originally his family name was Akabane and his name Tsuguzane. Kuwagata Tsuguzane (or Keisai) was famous for his bird’s-eye view depictions of landscapes, as here. He became the painter of the Tsugawa Clan of Mimasaka Province in 1794. He then was a pupil of Kano Korenobu, who was a student of Kano Yosei-in, one of four Tokugawa shogunate official palace painters (of the Kano school). 

The carver Noshiro Ryúko worked for Kitao Masayoshi’s  illustration books for painting students. Often he signed “Shunfú-do Noshiro Ryuko“.春風堂野代柳湖 (With thanks to Ms. Michiko Sato-Grube for her research here.)

Condition: Very good impression. Good color and condition. Mounting remnants, verso; very light backing and some repairs.
Dimensions: 36.4 x 55 cm
Carver: Noshiro Ryúko carved (Noshiro Ryúko koku) 野代 柳湖 刻
Literature: See the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center. See also Waseda University Library. 
Signature: Kuwagata Tsuguzane hitsu 鍬形紹真筆 with his seal Tsuguzane in red