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Towboats Along the Yotsugi-dori Canal, No. 33 in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

This canal was created in the seventeenth century to supply drinking water to the Fukagawa area. In Hiroshige's time a regular passenger-boat service emerged as a pleasant shortcut for Edo travelers heading northeast. This was the only towboat canal in Edo, and hence it enjoyed some distinction. Although the canal followed an absolutely straight line, Hiroshige depicted it with artistic license. The dramatic curves lend a sense of Western perspective seldom encountered in the series.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 2nd month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 1/8 in. (36.2 x 23.2 cm) Image: 13 7/16 x 9 in. (34.1 x 22.9 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Publisher: Shitaya Uo Ei
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.33
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1930, provenance not yet documented; by 1930, acquired by Anna Ferris of Summit, NJ; 1930, gift of Anna Ferris to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This was the only towboat canal in Edo and was used as a regular passenger-boat service from Honjo for the 4 1/2 mile ride to the intersection with the Mito Highway at Kameari, where the towboat service ended, but the canal itself continued another 10 miles to the north. (The canal in fact followed a straight line; the curving course shown here is Hiroshige's rendition.) The ferry service continued until the early 1880's, when the canal was severed into two parts by the construction of the Arakawa Drainage Channel and the southern segment was covered over in the 1950's. The rest survives today, although the stretch south of Kameari, depicted here, is quite polluted. This print is highly praised by Japanese commentators for its "strong harmony of color" and Uchida Minoru ranked it number five in the entire series.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Towboats Along the Yotsugi-dori Canal, No. 33 in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 2nd month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 1/8 in. (36.2 x 23.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.33 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.33_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.33_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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