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Art & Design

Utagawa Hiroshige, Dragonfly and Hardy Begonia (Tonbo to shûkaidô), 1830’s, Gift of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Utagawa Hiroshige

Dragonfly and Hardy Begonia (Tonbo to shûkaidô)

Utagawa Hiroshige Japanese, 1797-1858
Dragonfly and Hardy Begonia (Tonbo to shûkaidô), 1830’s
Polychrome woodblock print, ink and color on paper, embossing (gauffrage)
Image: 38.4 x 12.9 cm (15 1/8 x 5 1/16 inches)
Gift of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. 34.225

Japanese urban culture began to coalesce in Edo (modern Tokyo) in the later seventeenth century and along with it the printmaking tradition known as ukiyo-e (‘pictures of the floating world’). By the 1830s, the two great masters Hiroshige and Hokusai had expanded the ukiyo-e genre of bird-and-flower prints (kacho¯-e) and popularized it, extending ukiyo-e subject matter far beyond its initial parameters. The RISD Museum owns an outstanding collection of kacho¯-e, given in 1934 and 1938 by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. Its foremost exponent, Hiroshige, captured lyrical moments from nature with the utmost sensitivity. This rare impression of Dragonfly and Begonia is noteworthy for its beautiful coloration and for the delicate embossing of the dragonfly’s wings.

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