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Asian Art
Artist: Katsushika Hokusai, Japanese, 1760–1849

Nihonbashi in Edo, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji

ca. 1831

Ukiyo-e: polychrome woodblock print, blue key block

sheet: 10 × 14 1/2 in. (25.4 × 36.8 cm)
Frances Gaylord Smith Collection
1972.32.15

葛飾北斎 「富嶽三十六景 江戸日本橋」 浮世絵錦絵 江戸時代

For this view of Nihonbashi, or Japan Bridge, Katsushika Hokusai used an exaggerated Western-style perspective to create a daring and expressive triangular composition. The artist only hints at the famous bridge, which is the first station of the fifty-three stations of the Eastern Sea Route (Tōkaidō) connecting Edo (present-day Tokyo) and Kyoto, through a metal-capped pole in the center of the print. The bridge is teeming with workmen, vendors, and porters. In the middle ground, storehouses filled with wealthy merchants’ goods line the river. The shogun’s castle, a symbol of military government, sits at the apex, with Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan and the subject of worship by ascetics, looming high above in the distance.

Geography: 
Japan
Status: 
By appointment
Culture: 
Japanese
Period: 
Edo period (1615–1868)
Classification: 
Works on Paper - Prints
Provenance: 

Collection of Mrs. George T. Smith

Bibliography: 

George J. Lee, Edo Culture in Japanese prints, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1972), 41, no. 2.

Louisa Cunningham, The Spirit of Place: Japanese Paintings and Prints of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1984), 41–42, no. 11, ill.

Suzanne E. Wright and Melissa Walt Thompson, Working in the Floating World, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1986), no. 19.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.