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Ryogoku Bridge and the Great Riverbank, No 59 from One Hundred Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

Hiroshige described Ryōgoku Bridge as "the liveliest place in the Eastern Capital, with side-shows, theaters, story-tellers, and summer fireworks; day and night, the amusements never cease." Despite the festivities, the artist offers a peaceful, almost stylized, depiction of the place, with only a modest sense of its celebrated bustle. On the river is an assortment of cargo and passenger boats. Below is a row of riverside tea stalls where one could relax, much as in a modern Tokyo coffee shop.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 8th month of 1856
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Image: 13 1/2 x 8 3/4 in. (34.3 x 22.2 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Publisher: Shitaya Uo Ei
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.59
    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 The Ryogoku Bridge was described by Hiroshige himself as "the liveliest place in the Eastern capital, with side-shows, theaters, story-tellers and summer fireworks; day and night, the amusements never cease" (Ehon Edo Miyage, vol. 1). In this Z-shaped composition, Hiroshige depicts the bridge more as a place of passage than as a place of pleasure. Ryogoku Bridge was first named "Ohashi" (Great Bridge) but in popular usage it was referred to as Ryogokubashi, or "Two-Province Bridge." The "Great Riverbank" of the title (Okawabata) referred to the east bank of the Sumida. The river scene shows a mixture of cargo and passenger boats and below the shore are riverside tea stalls. The black stakes in the water near the shore known as Hyappongui ("Hundred Stakes") were designated as a breakwater to protect the shore from the fast current as the river curved eastward.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Ryogoku Bridge and the Great Riverbank, No 59 from One Hundred Views of Edo, 8th month of 1856. Woodblock print, Image: 13 1/2 x 8 3/4 in. (34.3 x 22.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.59 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.59_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.59_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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