AMANO GENKAI 天野元海 AND KASEYA SOJUN 嘉瀬谷素順, FUYŌ KIKAN 芙蓉奇観, 1828

Artist: Amano Genkai and Kaseya Sojun

Date: 1828

Medium: Woodblock print; ink and color on paper; paper covers

Publisher: Unspecified

Gift of Arthur Tress, Tress Box 1, item 6, https://franklin.library.upenn.edu/catalog/FRANKLIN_9977502582903681
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This oblong book features exquisite, subtly-colored views of Mt. Fuji through seasonal changes of atmosphere by artist Amano Genkai. The book is bound in the technique of gajōso, or album binding, achieved by folding pieces of paper in two and attaching them with paste applied at the opposite end of the outer edges. This type of album is called sasshibon and while its pages turn conventionally, the page-folds gently fan open like an accordion, giving dimension and depth to this slender book.

Genkai’s representations of the mountain are accompanied by poetic inscriptions in Chinese. In each of the 17 views, the snow line of Fuji varies with the season, or is partially obscured by a kasagumo, a “bamboo hat cloud,” that caps Fuji’s peak. The whiteness of the snow and clouds are achieved by preserving the original tone of the paper, their lack of coloring set in contrast to the delicate wash of ink and color printed over the rest of the scene. The painterly quality of this book challenges the classification of print as a lower form of artistry and reflects the technical innovations of block printing that successfully emulate the naturalism and subtlety previously only achieved by painters. Jack Hillier writes about “the Cult of Fuji” and the ways in which this “Peerless mountain” held and continues to hold the attention of writers, artists, and craftsmen. In Fuyō kikan, the immensity of Fuji’s symbolic and physical presence in Japan is unexpectedly rendered through understated lines and soft coloring. The hushed tones of Genkai’s portrayal capture the breathless awe and silent contemplation of all those who stand before the mountain.

Other Known copies: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Pulverer Collection in the Freer Gallery of Art, National Institute of Japanese Literature, Tsukuba University Library, The Tokyo University of Fine Art, Naitō Museum of Pharmaceutical Science and Industry

Selected Reading

Hillier, Jack. The Art of the Japanese Book. New York: Sotheby’s Publications, 1987, pp. 872-83.

Posted by Ann Ho, Fall semester, 2019

HARUNA SHIGEHARU 春名繁春, FUGAKU SHINKEI 富嶽真景 (TRUE PICTURES OF MT. FUJI), 1894

Artist: Haruna Shigeharu 春名繁春 (1847-1913)

Title: Fugaku shinkei 富嶽真景

Date of Publication: 1894, Publisher: Gunshojō, Shimomura Shotaro

Medium: Woodblock printed, ink and color on paper.

Dimensions: 18.5 x 25.1 x 0.8 cm (Pulverer)

Gift of: Tress, Arthur (donor) (Tress Collection copy)

Kislak Center for Special Collections – Arthur Tress Collection. Box 45, Item 21.

The Fugaku shinkei 富嶽真景 (True Pictures of Mt. Fuji) is created by the artist Haruna Shigeharu 春名繁春. Haruna Shigeharu was known as a painter of Kutani porcelain. The book is made with a fukurotoji binding but in a horizontal (yokobon) format with four hold binding. After the first four pages, additional folios have been supported a sheet of a thin paper inside the folded page, likely a later conservation intervention. In addition to the bizarre construction, page 5 does not have an image on the back, and this is consistent throughout the book for the remainder of the 32 images. The leaves after page 5 then transition to a butterfly binding.

The colophon reports the book is a single volume, complete (zen).

Artwork Analysis:

The thirty-two images show Mt. Fuji from a single perspective, and while Mt. Fuji is the subject for this book, the book does much more. The character of the mountain is not just defined by its iconic shape. Yet while the shape is important, so that the viewer understands where they are in Japan when observing the mountain, the book is a conversation between the mountain, the seasons and weather, and the observer. The view of Mt. Fuji as represented in the book is presented from the south, as though the observer is standing south of the mountain looking towards the north. Today, this view can be seen from the Shinkansen (bullet train) after the train departs from Mishima Station and towards . This view can be identified by the way that Mt. Fuji’s iconic second bump which can be observed from this angle.

The book was advertised in 1895 in The Japan Weekly Mail where it was described:

“Fugaku shinkyo, or Views of Fuji, is the title of a little album containing no less than 32 sketches of the summit of the peerless mountain, in all weathers and at all seasons. The exquisite symmetry and graceful shape of Fujiyama evoke a kind of reverential love in Japanese bosoins. Never, we believe, has any natural object received such tender worship or played such a large part in the art of a nation. Mr. Haruna Shigeharu, the painter of these 32 pictures, must have made the mountain a perpetual study. It is worthy of such attention, and the public will be grateful for this result of his labour of love.”

I realized that Fugaku shinkei appears to be simple in its physical presentation, but the more a reader spends time with the book the more details are exposed to the reader. It is much like when one sits with the view of the mountain in their visual field, no matter for a moment or an hour, the viewer will have a different experience along with a different perception of the space. For example, if a reader looks closely, there are detailed impressions of characters in the top left of the pages. But the book reveals more when it is observed with raking light. Details appear that contour the shapes in the landscape, this gives a deeper definition and texture to the space. The pages are more three dimensional than they initially appear. Though I can only speculate now about the artist’s intention, I believe the artist (and his collaborators, the carvers and printers) intended for this subtle detail to be discovered over time, much like how the subject, Mt. Fuji, changes over time in different weather and seasons, often in ways not noticeable or abrupt. This suggests to me that the book is observational by nature.

Haruna Shigeharu must have spent a considerable amount of time observing Mt. Fuji from the southern perspective to show such a variety of images of the same place. While the view is the same, it is always in flux, and while the mountain indexes as an icon in our consciousness, in reality, nature is what indexes our perception of the mountain in the moment. Thus, this is why a book with the “same” thirty-two images of Mt. Fuji can be so complex and polarizing.

Other Copies of the Book: 

Selected Readings: 

Posted by Derek Rodenbeck

April 15th, 2020

KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI 葛飾北斎, FUGAKU HYAKKEI 富嶽百景, 1834-1849

 “Fuji with Seven Bridges in One View” (vol. 2, no. 13)

Artist: Katsushika Hokusai葛飾北斎 (Japanese, 1760-1849)

TitleOne Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, vol. 1-2 (lacking vol.3)

Date: Woodblock of vol. 1 carved in 1834 (Tenpō 5); vol. 2 in 1835 (Tenpō 6); vol. 3 in the late 1840s

Medium: Monochrome woodblock print; ink on paper

Publisher: Eirakuya Tōshirō 永楽屋東四郎 (Nagoya)

Arthur Tress Collection, Box 16, Item 6

https://franklin.library.upenn.edu/catalog/FRANKLIN_9977502570703681

“Fuji and Ascending Dragon” (vol. 2, no. 4)

Artist: Katsushika Hokusai葛飾北斎 (Japanese, 1760-1849)

TitleOne Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, vol. 1-3

Date: Woodblock of vol. 1 carved in 1834 (Tenpō 5); vol. 2 in 1835 (Tenpō 6); vol. 3 in the late 1840s

Medium: Monochrome woodblock print; ink on paper

Publisher: [no publisher identified in the book]

Arthur Tress Collection, Box 10, Item 7

https://franklin.library.upenn.edu/catalog/FRANKLIN_9977502567203681

 

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Fugaku hyakkei, “One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji,” is an album of delightful, monochromatic illustrations of the national landmark and the eternal peak, Mount Fuji, from different vantage points and in a wide range of scenes. Some depict Mount Fuji in the distance as the backdrop while in the foreground people are preoccupied with working or pleasure, or while travelers and pilgrims make journeys to celebrated scenic spots or religious sites. Others situate the sacred peak in imaginary or aesthetically imaginative scenes, for example, the crouching dragon swiftly ascending with the current of cloud toward the sublime summit, or the mountain delineated in a reverse image suggesting its reflection in a watery expanse.

Totaling 102 views in three separate volumes, Fugaku hyakkei was designed and launched after the splendid series of single-sheet color prints, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji 富嶽三十六景 (1830-32), Hokusai’s most famous landscape prints. Although some views in the print series and illustrated book seem closely related in terms of motif and composition, Hokusai expanded his engagement with the mountain to show it in a range of imaginative views.

In the nineteenth century, more people were traveling in Japan and this contributed to the production of landscape prints and guidebooks. In these two impressions of Fugaku hyakkei in the Tress collection, marks and sketches are left on many pages, and the evidence of page-turning is also very clear, suggesting that earlier owners looked at them frequently, perhaps even taking them along their journeys.

Fugaku hyakkei, because of its enduring popularity and high demand, was reissued more than nine times with its original blocks, which leads to difficulty in dating the extant impressions.[1] According to the prefaces in the first two volumes, the woodblock for the first volume was carved in Tenpō 5 (1834) and the second in Tenpō 6 (1835), when the first editions were printed by Seirindō成鄰堂 in Edo. The woodblock of the third volume was carved in the late 1840s, and by that time Hokusai was almost ninety years old, as the preface claims. The third volume was first published by Eirakuya Tōshirō 永楽屋東四郎, who also bought the woodblocks for the first two volumes and reissued them with the new volume from his shop called the Tōhekidō 東壁堂 in Nagoya. In the following three decades, Eirakuya published at least three more editions. These two impressions in the Tress Collection includes advertisements for Tōhekidō on the inside back covers; this suggests that either the printings were rebound with these advertisements or published by Eirakuya. However, this history of the printings cannot be confirmed at this time and will require additional research.

 

Other Impressions

 The Gerhard Pulverer Collection, Freer Gallery of Art, Washington D.C (Vol. 1-3)

Library of Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art, Washington D.C (Vol. 1-3)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (Vol. 1-3)

The New York Public Library, New York, NY (Vol. 1-3)

Harvard Art Museum, Cambridge, MA (Vol. 1-3)

 

Selected Reading 

Earhart, H. Byron. Mount Fuji: Icon of Japan. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2015.

Smith, Henry. Introduction to Hokusai: One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, 7-24. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1988.

Woodson, Yoko. “Hokusai and Hiroshige: Landscape Prints of the Ukiyo-e School.”  In Hokusai and Hiroshige, San Francisco: the Asian Art Museum, 1998.

Posted by Aria Yirou Diao, October 8, 2019

[1] Henry Smith, Introduction to Hokusai: One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji (London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1988), 21.

 

UTAGAWA HIROSHIGE 歌川広重, FUJIMI HYAKUZU 無題 [富士見百図], 1859

Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川広重 (1797-1858)

Title: Fujimi hyakuzu 無題 [富士見百図]

Date of Publication: 1859 (Ansei 6).

Publisher: Nagoya: Eirakuya Tōshirō

Medium: Woodblock printed, ink and color on paper.

Dimensions: Hanshibon: 21.7 × 15.5 cm

Gift of Arthur Tress

Kislak Center for Special Collections – Arthur Tress Collection. Box 16, Item 10.

The Fujimi hyakuzu in the Tress collection is illustrated by Utagawa Hiroshige, showing twenty double page illustrations in color with Mt. Fuji seen from various locations, and two single page illustrations. There are two preface sheets and two additional illustrations. The publisher is identified in this copy as the Nagoya publisher, Eirakuya Tōshirō (copies at The Met and the Smithsonian do not include this information). Fujimi means places where Mt. Fuji may be seen, thus, the subject of the book is Mt. Fuji and the changing landscape around the mountain. Many of the images show a gradient in the water and the sky, demonstrating the skill of the publishers.

Hiroshige is best known for his first set of great landscape prints The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō Road (ca. 1832), that captured a time of day and season in a specific space on the Tōkaidō road. After his success with this project, Hiroshige continued to create series-based artworks, and the Fujimi hyakuzu is a representative of this continued exploration in his body of work. This is also important because the title Fugaku shinkei, Real Views of Mount Fuji, is given on the covers of this book. Hiroshige also mentions in his preface that Hokusai’s Fugaku hyakkei is great work but having been created compositionally, it is not as representational but is more interpretive, and the mountain was secondary in the work. Hiroshige explains that his images, by contrast, are based on sketches of the actual representational views. The intention is to show views to individuals who do not have access to these spaces.

Hiroshige presents the images in a diptych-like fashion, spanning both pages; it suggests that he made a conscious choice to divide the landscape this way. This could be for artistic discretion, or a publisher’s choice given how the woodblock prints would work best for printing at the hanshibon size.

The gutter between the images separates them, and this separation of the images on each page gives each picture an identity. They thus could work as standalone artworks. Yet the images also serve as a single overall image connecting each page together when the book is open. The double page images bleed into each other, past their borders, thus completing the total landscape. This juxtaposition in the landscape works in two ways. First, the borders are conterminous, meaning there is a gestalt to the two single images completing the whole image. Second, the images function as if the viewer was looking through a window, or at images in a frame. This is why the diptych function is useful when describing the artwork in Fujimi hyakuzu (Toda, p. 300)

Other Copies of the Book: 

  • Pulverer Collection, Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Washington DC http://pulverer.si.edu/node/1046/title/1
  • Smithsonian Libraries https://library.si.edu/digital-library/book/fujimihyakuzu00ando
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/78616

Additional Reading:

  • Toda, K. Descriptive catalogue of Japanese and Chinese illustrated books in the Ryerson Library of the Art Institute of Chicago. Mansfield Centre, CT: Martino.

Posted by Derek Rodenbeck

April 15th, 2020