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31 mai 2024

'Dreamscapes by Andō Hiroshige', A captivating journey from Edo to Kyōto at MBAM

'Dreamscapes by Andō Hiroshige', A captivating journey from Edo to Kyōto at MBAM

 

Montreal – The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is presenting an iconic series of prints by Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858) from its collection. For the first time in over two decades, it is pulling from storage these remarkable woodblock prints that illustrate scenes of everyday life unfolding at each relay station along the Tōkaidō, the famous Eastern Sea Road that connected Edo (now Tokyo), to the former imperial capital, Kyoto.

 

Dreamscapes by Andō Hiroshige presents all 55 prints of the very first edition of “Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō,” a series that has been in the MMFA’s collection since 1973 and that was published in 1833-1834 by Hoeidō and Senkakudō publishing houses. The exhibition looks at the talent of Hiroshige and his publishing team in creating an idyllic world everybody wanted to inhabit. It also examines the factors that led to the astronomical commercial success of these prints, which popularized the landscape print and fuelled the emergence of Japonisme in Europe.

 

An invitation to travel to 19th-century Japan

An unconventional artist from the samurai class, Hiroshige was not the first to be interested in the Tōkaidō. However, the success of his first series on the subject far eclipsed that of all those that came before it. In fact, some of his illustrations were reprinted more than 15,000 times. These beautifully depicted scenes fostered the perception that the Tōkaidō was more than a mere road along the country’s eastern sea coast – it was a destination in and of itself.

 

At the time it was created, this series sparked a desire in the masses to take the nearly 500-kilometre journey on foot from the Nihonbashi Bridge in Edo to the Sanjōhashi Bridge, in Kyoto. The 53 relay stations depicted promised travellers everything from lodging to specialty foods, sexual services and products of all sorts, including straw sandals.

 

Being an imaginary work, the “Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō” transcended the straightforward observational representation of places and offered instead a fantasy vision of Japan. Hiroshige’s Tōkaidō treated the landscape and its atmospheric effects – wind, snow, rain – as subjects in their own right, an approach that was completely novel at the time.

 

The artist also cited highly popular travel books and incorporated elements that came from Europe (Western perspective, horizontal picture format, shading and synthetic blue pigment) to create exotic dreamscapes with wide appeal. Seeing a commercial opportunity in the fast-growing the consumer and travel culture, he worked closely with his publishing team to turn the print into a powerful publicity tool that would ensure widespread visibility for cosmetic products, eating establishments and teahouses, as well as promote regional culinary specialties.

 

The artist also cited highly popular travel books and incorporated elements that came from Europe (Western perspective, horizontal picture format, shading and synthetic blue pigment) to create exotic dreamscapes with wide appeal. Seeing a commercial opportunity in the fast-growing the consumer and travel culture, he worked closely with his publishing team to turn the print into a powerful publicity tool that would ensure widespread visibility for cosmetic products, eating establishments and teahouses, as well as promote regional culinary specialties.

 

The seductive charm with which Hiroshige imbued his compositions earned him the reputation as a master of Japanese landscape prints. In his captivating illustrations, he cleverly blended the real and the imaginary, to almost cinematic effect, becoming the maker of a world everybody yearned to inhabit and travel within – a world that still charms us to this day,” says Laura Vigo, Curator of Asian Art at the MMFA.

 

Montreal is lucky to be home to one of the country’s most important collections of graphic art, built through the generosity of its community. We are excited to be shedding new light on this celebrated series of prints by Hiroshige, which helped shape the collective imagination of Japan. It is a joy to share with Montreal audiences these remarkable prints gifted to us in 1973,” adds Mary-Dailey Desmarais, Chief Curator of the MMFA.

 

An exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Curator: Laura Vigo, Curator of Asian Art, MMF. April 27 – September 8, 2024

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Nihonbashi, Morning View (日本橋之図 朝 之景), no. 1 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publishers: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō); Tsuruya Kiemon (Senkakudō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Shinagawa, Sunrise (品川日之出), no. 2 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publishers: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō); Tsuruya Kiemon (Senkakudō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Kawasaki, Rokugō Ferry (川崎六郷渡船), no. 3 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publishers: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō); Tsuruya Kiemon (Senkakudō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine
Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Kanagawa, View of the Embankment (神奈 川台之景), no. 4 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Hodogaya, Shinmachi Bridge (保土ヶ谷新 町橋), no. 5 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

 

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Odawara, Sakawa River (小田原酒匂川), no. 10 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Hakone, Scene of the Lake (箱根湖水図), no. 11 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Hara, Mount Fuji in the Morning (原朝之 富士), no. 14 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Kanbara, Night Snow (蒲原夜之雪), no. 16 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Mariko, Famous Teahouse (鞠子名物茶屋), no. 21 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Kanaya, Distant Bank of the Ōi River (金谷 大井川遠岸), no. 25 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Nissaka, Sayo Mountain Pass (日坂佐夜之中山), no. 26 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Kakegawa, View of Akiba Mountain (掛川秋葉山遠望), no. 27 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Goyu, Women Stopping Travellers (御油旅人留女), no. 36 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Shōno, Driving Rain (庄野白雨), no. 46 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Ishibe, Village of Megawa (石部目川ノ里), no. 52 from the series “Fiftythree Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.

View of the exhibition 東海道 Tōkaidō: Dreamscapes by Andō Hiroshige at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo MMFA, Denis Farley

View of the exhibition 東海道 Tōkaidō: Dreamscapes by Andō Hiroshige at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo MMFA, Denis Farley

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