Sadahide: Sea Coast at Tsukiji Hotel Tokyo and American Flag 東京築地ホテル館海岸の図)

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Artist: Gountei Sadahide 貞秀  (1807-ca. 1878)
Title: Sea Coast at Tsukiji Hotel Tokyo (Tokyo Tsukiji hoteru-kann kaigan no zu 東京築地ホテル館海岸の図Date: 1871

Fascinating view of Tsukiji Hotel, built expressly for foreigners at the dawn of the new era of Meiji. Sadahide has made a careful study of the new building and also noted specific details that he found interesting, including an inset close-up of a spiral staircase as well as a weather vane. At the very end of the Edo Period, the British diplomat Harry Parks requested that the governing military Bakufu allow for the building of a hotel for visiting foreigners, and the Bakufu allocated Tsukiji, at the estuary of  the Sumida River. In 1867 the building project had begun, led by a British-American Construction Firm stationed in Yokohama, led by Richard Brigence. The hotel was completed in September 1868. In January 1868, Edo had opened to allow foreigners into the formerly closed city. 

We see the large hotel building spreading diagonally across two sheets, the many western construction details noted carefully and in the center the American flag flying prominently. Behind the building we see activities at the entrance, including a glimpse of a carriage, townsfolk and an arched stone entrance gate. To the left, the foreign peoples populate the scene in an almost decorative fashion, with the two most prominent people  seen in the foreground of the the lower right. When we compare the photos of the hotel at the time, Sadahide’s depiction of the building is accurate. In two charming insets, he introduced the different kind of stairs: right - a staircase of second and third floor (nikai sangai hashigo no zu二階三階の図) and left, spiral stairway (kaidan hashigo no zu 階段梯子の図). He also explained an anemoscope, saying that the arrow shows the wind direction as it moves, center top sheet. 

The depiction of the hotel landscaping and the seafront garden seems to be in the more traditional ukiyo-e style. Off the coast we see a steam vessel with more notations by the ever-curious artist. A setting sun is shown on the deep-red horizon. No other examples of this work can be found with an online search, so it seems to be an undocumented design by this artist. Extremely scarce.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Untrimmed and unbacked. Two square transfer discolorations on side of building.

Dimensions: oban triptych ( each sheet 37 x 25.6 cm) Publisher: Ohashi-do 大橋堂

Signature: Gountei Sadahide ga