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Bamboo Yards, Kyobashi Bridge, No. 76 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

Bamboo was an essential commodity in Edo, both for construction and for seasonal decorations. Stocks of tens of thousands of bamboo poles were brought in as rafts, and bamboo yards, while perhaps not as tall or as thick as shown here, were imposing to behold.

The characters "Hori-Take" on the lantern of the figure just left of center on the bridge are the hidden signature of Yokogawa Hori-Take, one of the best known carvers of the day, an artisan responsible for engraving many of Hiroshige's designs of the 1850s. Here he has inserted his name on the one print most appropriate to its literal meaning: "Carver Bamboo."

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 12th month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm) Image: 13 7/16 x 8 3/4 in. (34.1 x 22.2 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS No publisher's seal visible, probably lost when left margin was trimmed. Date and censor seals at top margin.
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.76
    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 Kyobashi was the first bridge on the Tokaido Road, south of the Nihonbashi Bridge, with which it shared the jewel-shaped metal rail ornaments known as "giboshi." The bridges leading into the gates of Edo Castle were the only others allowed these ornaments. The ornaments on the Kyobashi were preserved when the bridge was destroyed in 1965, and are seen today in front of a nearby police station. Hiroshige began his career as a landscape artist in 1831 with a variety of bridge and moon compositions. The incredibly tall pillars of the bridge in this scene might have influenced Whistler's "Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Old Battersea Bridge" (1872) in the Tate Gallery. Along the bank of this river were the bamboo dealers of Sumi-choa, which gave this area the name of Takegashi ("bamboo quay"). The procession crossing the bridge is a group of pilgrims returning from Mount Oyama with their souvenir bonten. Below is a boatman poling a skiff loaded with bamboo baskets. There is a figure crossing the bridge (about center) carrying a red lantern and on that lantern is the signature of Yokogawa Hori-take, one of the best known woodblock carvers of the day. He engraved many of Hiroshige's designs in the 1850's and carved the memorial portrait of Hiroshige shortly after the artist's death.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Bamboo Yards, Kyobashi Bridge, No. 76 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 12th month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.76 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.76_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.76_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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