Hiroshige Eisen:
The Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kisokaido

Introduction and Commentary by Sebastian Izzard

September, 2008
Hardcover, 160 pages
10.2 x 13.8 x 0.8 inches
71 full-color images

ISBN 13: 978-0-8076-1593-5
$80.00 (Can $87.00)


Reproduced from the finest surviving edition of the original manuscript, this book offers an unforgettable portrait of daily life in 19th century Japan. Each plate teems with unique characters, from beggars and brawling men to boaters and finely clothed women; and the artists' gentle humor imbues them all with remarkable, human vitality. Behind the travelers loom castles, cities, powerful waterfalls and other sites familiar to lovers of Japanese history. Readers will travel from station to station through changing seasons, rural roads and city streets, on a journey that explores every stratum of a diverse society.

Commentary by art scholar and curator Sebastian Izzard, Ph.D. accompanies each image, offering new insights into the artists' processes, and into the survival of their work. Many of the wood blocks used in printing the original Sixty Nine Stations changed radically after the early editions, and Izzard addresses the protean nature of each image. His commentary details the manuscript's survival during the dramatic social shifts and economic hardship of Hiroshige and Eisen's time, urging an appreciation for its evolution over the years. The Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kisokaido tells the story of a landmark, immortal artists, and an enduring masterpiece. 71 color images.

 

"This is a fine example of the deluxe albums produced for the Japanese armchair traveler of the 19th century, displaying the delights of a journey along the famous scenic route connecting Edo and Kyoto. As Japanese art scholar Izzard explains, the publishers of this album enlisted the services of Keisai Eisen (1790–1848), a known carouser who supported his family by writing salacious literature before turning to art. Beginning in 1835, Eisen completed 24 prints before Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), one of the great masters of lyrical landscapes, took over. The differing approaches of the two artists keep the album lively. Although each did both landscapes and more anecdotal scenes, only Eisen could have produced the brawl among beggars or the nightly parade of courtesans through a bustling post station. Hiroshige is best when depicting well-known beauty spots along the route, the specifics of seasons, rain storms and times of day ranging from sunrise to moonlit nights. This volume reproduces a recently discovered early edition of the album, containing details and colors that were dropped from later editions. Commentaries provide historical information for today's armchair traveler along with technical information for the specialist and collector."
--Publisher's Weekly
 

"Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858) and Keisai Eisen (1790–1848), master artists of Japan’s Ukiyo-e tradition, created a series of prints chronicling the Kisokaido, the highway connecting Edo and Kyoto, and its 69 post stations, where travelers could admire the scenery, eat, shop, stay overnight, and be entertained. In brilliantly composed color images, Eisen and Hiroshige capture the look and spirit of each station, creating what Japanese art expert Izzard declares is a “tour de force of artistic vision and printmaking craftsmanship.” Eisen began the series in 1835, creating densely detailed and busy scenes of people at play and at work, “bold and expressive” records of the tumult of life on the road. Hiroshige took over where Eisen left off after 25 prints, bringing a more lyrical aesthetic to the process, focusing on the grandeur and grace of the land, water, and sky. But both artists were visual storytellers, rendering intriguing vignettes. In fact, these remarkably animated prints, sumptuously reproduced in this entrancing and informative volume, stand as early forms of manga, rich in drama, beauty, and humor."
--Booklist


SEBASTIAN IZZARD received his Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. With over twenty years’ experience as an auction house specialist, appraiser and dealer in Japanese and Korean Art, he has also served as head of the Japanese and Korean art division at Christie’s New York, curated shows for the Ukiyo-e Society of America and the Japan Society, and received the Uchiyama Memorial Prize for advances in Japanese print studies. He currently lives in New York.