Art Around Campus: A Work by Ando Hiroshige
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This video was created by students during the summer of 2011. It appeared on the University's website during the 2011-2012 academic year.Renata Carlson is a member of the Class of 2013 of Washington and Lee University.The following statement, by Renata Carlson, accompanied the video on the University's website: This Japanese woodblock print, located in Wilson Hall, is part of the "The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido" by Ando Hiroshige, which was published between 1831 and 1834. The Tokaido (literally "East Sea Road") was the main route connecting the economic capital Edo (modern-day Tokyo) with the Imperial capital Kyoto. The government ordered that 53 stations be built and maintained by the local shoguns. Most of the stations had stables, fresh litter-carriers for wealthy travelers and lodging. The station in this print, Ishibe, is one of the smallest and most isolated stations along the road, but even this one had a tea house which also served Japanese comfort food. The print album is evidence of the growing popularity of travel narratives in the Japanese middle-class in the early 19th century. As life became easier for the upper classes, many became curious about the world outside of Tokyo. Since travel was difficult and uncomfortable-most travelers simply walked to where they were going-many relied on travel narratives. "Fifty-Three Stages of the Tokaido" depicted the various stations along the route, along with scenes from both Edo and Kyoto. This print has some use of perspective, which is a Western influence. This woodblock is one of my favorites because it is a bit of a time capsule, showing a culture that has been altered almost beyond recognition by modernization and war. It captures for me a time long past and a culture forever changed by war and Western influence. This picture is from a time where contact with the outside world was severely limited, but Western influence still found a way in. In many ways this world seems foreign to us. Horses and livestock were impractical in a crowded Japan, so most travel was by foot, or by litter for the upper classes. Yet for all the differences, this world that we have the chance to look in on bears similarities to our own. The print was marketed to an emerging middle class that was more and more interested in travel and in other parts of their world. The stops like those illustrated in the book remind me of truck stops, or of those towns along highways that seem to exist only for passing travelers. And the dancing figure is reminiscent of times when you are traveling and you have to do something silly in order to break the monotony. The figures in this print seem to me to be alive and vibrant and relatable, instead of stiff like figures in Western-style portraits. These prints were probably inspired by scenes that Hiroshige, an avid traveler, saw while he was traveling. This woodblock print is one of several that were donated by Mr. and Mrs. J. Bolton McBryde.