Hiroshige/Eisen: The Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kisokaido

Ando Hiroshige, Illustrator, Keisai Eisen, Illustrator, Sebastian Izzard, Introduction by . Braziller $80 (159p) ISBN 978-0-8076-1593-5

This is a fine example of the deluxe albums produced for the Japanese armchair traveler of the 19th century, displaying the delights of a journey along the famous scenic route connecting Edo and Kyoto. As Japanese art scholar Izzard explains, the publishers of this album enlisted the services of Keisai Eisen (1790–1848), a known carouser who supported his family by writing salacious literature before turning to art. Beginning in 1835, Eisen completed 24 prints before Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), one of the great masters of lyrical landscapes, took over. The differing approaches of the two artists keep the album lively. Although each did both landscapes and more anecdotal scenes, only Eisen could have produced the brawl among beggars or the nightly parade of courtesans through a bustling post station. Hiroshige is best when depicting well-known beauty spots along the route, the specifics of seasons, rain storms and times of day ranging from sunrise to moonlit nights. This volume reproduces a recently discovered early edition of the album, containing details and colors that were dropped from later editions. Commentaries provide historical information for today’s armchair traveler along with technical information for the specialist and collector. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/23/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
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