Paulownia Trees at Akasaka in the Evening Rain

Utagawa Hiroshige II Japanese

Not on view

Hiroshige II was the son-in-law and successor to his namesake, who died in 1858. This print was completed seven months after the elder artist's death as a replacement for his version of the same setting (plate 53 of One Hundred Famous Views of Edo), the original woodblocks for which may have been damaged or lost. This composition confirms that the younger artist adopted both his predecessors' formal and symbolic usage of the silhouette. Layers of silhouettes in the background allow the artist to suggest the dramatic upward sweep of the landscape. Like his master, Hiroshige II treats the background as a plane where the sharpness of the foreground trees and figures has suddenly given way to biomorphic silhouettes. The artist's free sense of color can be seen in his almost abstract application of green to suggest the foliage of the trees. The background can almost be read on a symbolic level as a metaphysical point of departure from the earthly to the transmundane.

Paulownia Trees at Akasaka in the Evening Rain, Utagawa Hiroshige II (Japanese, 1826–1869), Woodblock print; ink and color on paper, Japan

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