Kiyochika 清親: Honcho Street on a Snowy Evening (Honcho-dori yoruyuki) 本町通夜雪

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Artist: Kobayashi Kiyochika 小林 清親 (1847-1915)
Title: Honcho Street on a Snowy Evening (Honcho-dori yoruyuki) 本町通夜雪 (Night Snow on Honmachidori) 
Date: 1880

Iconic Kiyochika view of a horse-drawn carriage racing down Honmachi Street in Tokyo in the snow. We may notice that the snowflakes are only evident in the auras surrounding the light sources of the carriage lamps and the streetlamp. Regarding human figures, only the shadow of the driver is visible, and the man at left also has his visage, even his upper half, enveloped by his umbrella. The horse wears blinders, but the dog at right seems to be enjoying his race with the carriage horse. As has been oft-noted by scholars, Kiyochika’s evening scenes in this series are characterized by detachment and and even loneliness; he seems wistful for the earlier era before modernization and its profound effects on society. The Tokyo that Kiyochika captured basically disappeared soon after he published this series.  We also can see the influence of western copperplate engraving in the way that the horse and cart have been depicted. A scarce design that may be found elsewhere printed from recarved blocks in the 1970s due to its popularity.

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. Center fold. Hinging remnants, verso.
Dimensions: ôban horizontal (23.7 x 34.4 cm)
Publisher: Fukada Kumajirô
Literature: See British Museum, Smithsonian Museum for Asian Art. Note that this example is a better impression that the Muller example at the Smithsonian. See James Ulak’s terrific essay “Kiyocika’s Tokyo: Master of Modern Melancholy” on the MIT Visualizing Cultures website. Hiroshige & Kiyochika, “100th Anniversary of his Death,” page 114, plate 165 (Ota Memorial Museum of Art); Kobayashi Kiyochika, “Studies in Light and Shadow of the Westernization of Japan,” page 47, plates 60-61.
Signature: Kobayashi Kiyochika