Utagauana Hiroshige

This is one of my favorite Japanese woodblock prints from the Edo-period. It is by Hiroshige (1797-1858) whose work centered on telling stories of 19th century Japanese life in villages and varied landscapes. What is interesting about this period work is that it was often a collaboration between artist, publisher, woodblock carver, and printer although almost always accredited only to the artist and publisher. The artistic expression which emerged from the Edo-period was centered on its use of water as a metaphor which carried ancient associations of freedom & pleasure, the “delightful” uncertainties of life when people live for the moment. This woodblock print is actually only a few miles from my home at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT. The woodblock prints which hang in the museum (there are many) are actually not the original prints, the originals are kept in air tight storage facilities due to their delicate nature and their susceptibility to fading from UV light. You are able to request private views of the prints, which is very cool. This little museum has quite a history and is well worth a tour through it's mainly impressionistic paintings, although the entire collection is quite large and varied as the family was quite eclectic in their taste. Theodate Pope Tate was the chief architect and only daughter of the Tate family. She designed the estate in the late 1890's and was also a main architect of the private all boys school, Avon Old farms, in Avon, CT. I can go on and on about her architectural style and talent but I guess if you're really interested you can just look her up yourself.

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