October 14, 2017
Ando Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), Fukagawa Lumberyards, from One-Hundred Views of Famous Places in Edo, c.1856, woodcut, 13 1/2 x 8 15/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.
On this day in 1867, the fifteenth and last Shogun of Japan, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, resigned from his position. We remember this day via a woodblock print by the renowned 19th-century Japanese artist, Hiroshige.
In this bright winter scene, the strong diagonal lines of stacked wooden poles echo the zig-zag path of the blue river with its snow-covered banks. Two men in traditional straw raincoats push floating planks, while a gentle snowfall adds to the layer of white on trees, bushes, rooftops, and lumber. Two colorful birds fly out of the gray sky toward the stacks of poles, while below a red and a gray dog eye each other cautiously. A bright yellow umbrella splattered with snow sits in the center of the foreground, as if the artist has just set it down while he captures the peaceful scene on paper.