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Utagawa Hiroshige, 'Evening bell at Mii Temple' (Mii banshō), a colour woodblock print


Height: 252.000 mm
Width: 382.000 mm

Samuel Tuke Collection

Asia JA 1907.5-31.591

    Utagawa Hiroshige, 'Evening bell at Mii Temple' (Mii banshō), a colour woodblock print

    Edo period, around AD 1834

    From the series 'From the Eight Views of Lake Biwa' (ōmi hakkei no uchi)

    The 'Eight Views of Lake Biwa' (near Kyoto) were first established in the medieval period as Japanese equivalents of Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers, long celebrated in Chinese literature and painting.

    Following the enormous success of his first great landscape series 'Fifty-Three Stations along the Tōkaidō Highway' (Tōkaidō gojūsan-tsugi no uchi), Hiroshige (1797-1858) designed this series for the same publishers, Takenouchi Magohachi and Yamamoto Heikichi. The feeling of the ōmi series is quite different. Appropriate to the 'classical' subject, the designs have an austere grandeur, with human interest, such an important feature of Hiroshige's work, kept to a minimum.

    In 1500 when the ōmi theme was first adopted by Japanese artists, Prince Konoe Masaie and his son chose a classical poem to match each scene. To complete his work, Hiroshige has included the poems. This one reads:

    Omou mono
    Akatsuki chigiru
    Hajime zo to
    Mazu kiku Mii no
    Iri-ai no kane

    Lovers think
    'So begin our
    dawn vows'
    When first they hear
    The evening bell of Mii Temple

    L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


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