19th Century Wood-Block Prints at Albany Institute

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woodblock print by Utagawa Hiroshige courtesy of Reading Public MuseumThe Albany Institute of History & Art has opened “Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido,” a traveling exhibition organized by the Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania. The exhibition, which features over fifty historic wood-block prints, runs through June 10, 2018.

The exhibition features 55 wood-block prints by Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797-1858), recording the scenic views along the famous “Eastern Road” that linked Edo (now Tokyo) with Kyoto, the ancient imperial capital of Japan. This popular series, known as the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, was published in 1834 and established Hiroshige’s reputation as an artist of the topographical landscape.

In 1832, Hiroshige journeyed along the historic Tokaido, visiting the fifty-three towns and villages that dotted the road, which provided lodging, refreshments, and souvenirs for travelers. The route was traveled frequently by noblemen, merchants, religious pilgrims and tourists. Hiroshige stayed at these overnight stations and recorded numerous views of the surrounding landscape, towns and people.

Hiroshige was trained in the tradition of the ukiyo-e — “floating world” — wood-block print making. As a genre, landscape developed late in the ukiyo-e period and was greatly influenced by the prints of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).

The Albany Institute of History & Art is located at 125 Washington Avenue in Albany, New York. Free parking is available in the museum’s lot at the corner of Elk and Dove Streets.

For more information, visit the Museum’s website or call (518) 463-4478.

Painting: Wood-Block print by Utagawa Hiroshige, courtesy Reading Public Museum.

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