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Night View of Saruwaka-machi (Saruwaka-machi Yoru no Kei), No. 90 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

As the full moon rises high in the autumn sky, its rays bathe Saruwaka-machi, the theater district of Edo, with silver light. The moonlight also displays an array of shadows that seem to have a life apart from the gray and black figures that cast them. These shadows are central to the magical quality of this unusual print. Both for Western viewers accustomed to pictures with shadows and for Edo viewers to whom shadows were a curiosity, these particular forms have the similar effect of conjuring up an otherworldly atmosphere.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 9th month of 1856
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS 14 1/4 x 9 1/4in. (36.2 x 23.5cm) Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36.1 x 23.5 cm) Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Title in cartouche upper right. Signature in cartouche, left. Censor seals in upper right border. No publisher's seal visible, probably lost when left margin was trimmed.
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.90
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1930, provenance not yet documented; by 1930, acquired by Anna Ferris of Summit, NJ; 1930, gift of Anna Ferris to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION View of an autumn night in Saruwaka-machi, the segregated theater district of Edo. Throughout most of the Tokugawa Period kabuki and puppet theaters were located in two separate areas of Edo. Following a fire that destroyed one of the districts in 1841, the theaters were relocated to Asakusa, already an established center of popular pleasure. The new theater district was named Saruwaka-machi after Saruwaka Kanzaburo, the founder of Edo kabuki and first in the premier Nakamura-za lineage. On the left side are teahouses and waitresses are seeing off guests from the veranda; on the right side are kabuki theaters with the boxed turrets perched on the roof above each entrance. Generally performances were confined to the daylight hours. Details shown here convey that it is the end of the day. Men from the teahouses hold bright lanterns to guide their guests back to the entrance gate and among the figures are two who ply their trades at night and a fortune-teller clad in solid black.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Night View of Saruwaka-machi (Saruwaka-machi Yoru no Kei), No. 90 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 9th month of 1856. Woodblock print, 14 1/4 x 9 1/4in. (36.2 x 23.5cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.90 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.90_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.90_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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