Kiyochika 清親: Summer Night at Asakusa Kurama’e 浅草蔵前夏夜

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Artist: Kobayashi Kiyochika 小林 清親 (1847-1915)
Title: Summer Night at Asakusa Kurama’e 浅草蔵前夏夜
Date: 1881

Smith describes this scene has having a “poetic blend of dusk and gaslight”. These evening street scenes communicate the alienation that the residents of Tokyo must have been feeling as a result of rapid westernization. Here the skyline shows a traditional row of buildings, but on the left are the newly erected gaslamps and telegraph poles, which must have been an astonishment. Kiyochika has also carefully spaced the silhouetted figures, giving them an apparition-like appearance. The feeling is of isolation and loneliness despite the newfangled street lights. Kiyochika’s haunting night views of a rapidly modernizing Tokyo are justly famous and are considered some of his finest designs. As James Ulak from the Smithsonian noted for their 2014 exhibition “Master of Night”: “Often silhouetted, Kiyochika’s figures are at once together and alone—observers, rather than actors, in an oddly quiet landscape.” With a layer of sparkling mica that enlivens the print.

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. Barely visible center fold and hinging remnants verso.
Dimensions: ôban horizontal (23.3 x 33.7 cm)
Publisher: Fukada Kumajirô
Literature: Tokichi Sakai, Kiyochika, The Japan Association for the Preservation of Ukiyo-e, translation by N.S. Gankow, 1969, no. 77. Henry D. Smith II, Kiyo-Chika: Artist of Meiji Japan, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, p. 35, no. 23. Exhibition of Kobayashi Kiyochika, Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, 1998, p. 39, no. 36. Kobayashi Kiyochika: A Retrospective, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, 2016, p. 64, no. 89 . Francois Lachaud. Les Provinces de la nuit: quelques nocturnes de Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915). vol. 66 Paris. 188, 8. See the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art online, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
Signature: Kobayashi Kiyochika