Pierce Galleries, Hingham and Nantucket Fine Art Dealers, Museum Quality Paintings



(Japanese, 1797-1858)
Confrontation on the Docks

Hand-colored woodblock print, 9 x 13 1/2 inches
Signed and inscribed upper left, right and lower left

Utagawa Hiroshige's early masterpiece, the series of fifty-five ôban designed titled Tôkaidô gojûsan tsugi no uchi ( Fifty-three Post Stations of the Eastern Sea Road) was published around 1833-1834 by two firms, Takenouchi Magohachi (Hôeidô) and Tsuruya Kiemon (Tsuruki or Senkakudô). The sets by these men are earlier than other similar sets published later by the artist with variations on the same theme. Over 36 sets by Magohahi & Kiemon have over 900 individual “plate designs” and were reissued many times with many states. Today, their chronology and clarity of date is still under vast debate by Japanese experts, and few agree with one another regarding which state is first, second, third and so forth. Variations on the prints took place after a fire in the publisher's studio in February 1834, ruining aspects of the original woodblocks. In other woodblocks, colors are often left out. Regardless, Hiroshige was a poetic master at interpreting the Japanese landscape and sea.

Hiroshige is to Japanese landscape as Winslow Homer is to American marine painting. Hiroshige is considered worldwide to be the finest woodblock maker and landscape artist of his era, without exception. His simplicity of line and flowing movement and his ability to render in a few lines the essence of the atmosphere and the stillness or harshness of the environment has influenced artists worldwide. He was a master and considered a world treasure.