Kobayashi Kiyochika Paulownia Plantation in Akasaka

Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1847-1915

One Hundred Views of Musashi: Paulownia Plantation in Akasaka Behind Sanno Mountain
(Musashi hyakkei no uchi: Akasaka kiribatake San'no urayama)

with a dusting of mica along the top edge, signed Shinseiro Kiyochika with artist's seal Shinsei, dated on left margin, on todoke Meiji ju - nen, - gatsu - ka (registered Meiji 10 -year - month - day), followed by publisher's information, Shuppan nin Kobayashi Tetsujiro tori san choume jusan banchi (publisher Kobayashi Tetsujiro, 13th district), and artist, Gako Kobayashi Kiyochika gensuke chou hachi banchi (designer Kobayashi Kiyochika, 18th district), and carver's rectangular cartouche below, Hori Gin, ca. 1884

oban tate-e 14 5/8 by 9 7/8 in., 37.2 by 25 cm

In 1884, Kiyochika began a new vertical landscape series, inspired by the iconic One Hundred Views of Edo by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) which he titled One Hundred Views of Musashi, in reference to the Musashi Plain, once located to the north of Edo, now swallowed up as part of the northern reaches of Tokyo. The Musashi Plain holds particular poetic significance with an ancient association to lonely nocturnes and autumnal motifs.

Paulownia Plantation in Akasaka Behind Sanno Mountain, 1884, references Hiroshige's design of the same location which features a tree straight up through the middle of the composition, uncomfortably bisecting our view. In contrast, Kiyochika frames the view by placing a tree in the foreground to the left, with a rough fence post (perhaps a humorous allusion to Hiroshige's tree) partially dividing the lower half. A blooming peony in the foreground bends under the weight of a heavy rain falling at a slight diagonal. In the middle distance are tiny figures at the water's edge and two more on a small boat, and beyond, low buildings are tucked beside darkened hills.

After producing only 34 prints in the Musashi series, for unknown reasons the project was abandoned and production ceased in 1885 while Kiyochika increasingly focused his energies political cartoons commissioned by satirical magazines.

Kiyochika, Goyo, Shinsui hanga ten: Meiji, Taisho no ukiyo-e shi, Seibu Hyakkaten, 1976, no. 52
Exhibition of Kobayashi Kiyochika, Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, 1998, p. 85, no. 114
Kobayashi Kiyochika: A Retrospective, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, 2016, p. 173, no. 288
(inv. no. 10-4875)


Hiroshige, Paulownia Plantation at Akasaka, 1856 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)


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