Artist: Hiroshige AndoTitle: Sudden Shower Over Shin-Ohashi BridgeSeries: One Hundred Famous Views of EdoPulisher: WatanabeDate: Showa era printed from recarved woodblocksMedium: Japanese woodblock printSize: oban, 10.5 x 15.5 inchesWE CAN ALMOST HEAR THE CRACK OF THUNDER as the roiling black clouds burst into sheets of heavy rain, scattering the huddled shapes on the bridge below. This print is the undisputed masterpiece of the One Hundred famous Views of Edo. It bears comparison in its universal appeal with another of Hiroshige's most famous landscapes, Shono in The Fifty-three Stations of The Tokaido, with which it shares the theme of escape from a sudden rain. The immediate appeal of this composition is enhanced by finely wrought details. The irregular pattern of the black clouds above reveals to a rare degree the spontaneous hand of the printer, differing visibly from one print to another. The torrent of rain turns out on close inspection to be an overlay of black on gray at slightly different angles, some lines broken, other extending the length of the composition. The six figures on the bridge offer a lively diversity of ways to escape from the rain, in ones, twos and threes, under hats, mats, and umbrellas, in one direction and another.
Utagawa Hiroshige or Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) was a Japanese artist during the 19th century and is considered the last great master of the ukiyo-e movement. His approach was more poetic and ambient than the typical ukiyo-e style, and his innovative compositions were a great influence to Western painters, such as Vincent van Gogh. The term ukiyo-e translates to "pictures of the floating world" and refers to a genre of Japanese art with a wide span of imagery such as kabuki actors, folk tales, landscapes, and even erotica. This movement was critical in forming the Western perception of Japanese art.
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