Utagawa Hiroshige 2

Mitsuke – View of Tenryu River: designed by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797 – 1858)

This is number thirty seven of Hiroshige’s 53 Stations of the Tokaido, originally published by Hoeido in 1833 -34.

During the 1950’s, a famous publisher, Takawizama, issued a recut series – and my print belongs to that edition. New wood blocks (based on the original design) were cut by the master carvers, and printed with traditional colours on fine hand-made paper.

I think Mitsuke is one of Hiroshige’s most evocative and successful prints. Of course, he had to make a living, and was obliged to churn out hundreds of designs – many of which were good enough for the purpose, but not of the highest standard.

Maybe fifty or so prints are works of genius. Unlike Hokusai, Hiroshige understood both the strengths and limitations of the medium – and his personality (understated, and perhaps a little melancholic) is beautifully expressed in Mitsuke. It is the creation of a poet; an impulse of the heart – which at the same time goes to the heart of the landscape.

Hokusai, I should add,  was undoubtedly a painter of genius, and a brilliant draftsman….but his woodblock designs seem to be more concerned with intellect than subject matter (or material): they are imposed on the woodblock without compromise.

That is just my view I suspect most art critics would  disagree….

Reflection 1

The disciple Kung-too said: All are equally men, but some are great men, and some are little men; how is this?

Mencius replied: Those who follow that part of themselves which is great are great men; those who follow that part which is little are little men….

Soundboard 3

I’m getting there. This is a practice run on a scrap of Huon Pine.

Once the pattern is cut, I will try my hand  at  relief carving. The lines must be carved  under and over as in a woven fabric.

It is a tricky business. My confidence levels have gone up a little, which is something: a  few months back the whole thing seemed impossible….