November 10, 2017

Ando Utagawa Hiroshige, "Kinryuzan Temple in Asakusa"

Ando Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), Kinryuzan Temple in Asakusa, from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, mid 19th century, woodcut, 14 x 9 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.

This evocative print by Japanese artist Utagawa Hiroshige from the MOA’s Asian art collection offers a glimpse through the gates of a famous Buddhist temple in Edo (Tokyo), during a gentle snowfall. The side of the gate and the large lantern overhead innovatively frame the view of worshippers approaching the temple, its brilliant red walls contrasting with the dense, spotless snow.

The bright pure colors, geometric composition, and lack of shadows make the picture more a flattened, decorative pattern than a realistic scene; nevertheless, it convincingly depicts the environment and stillness of the moment. The temple gates have just opened, inviting viewers into a pristine, tranquil world.