Hiroshige II / size (cm) 74v x 74w
A well known piece made by Hiroshige II. "Nihon E-sugoroku
Shusei" (A Collection of Picture Sugoroku) edited and written
by Takahashi Junji, introduces it as follows;
------This sugoroku also shows Hiroshige's
talent as an idea hitter.
The sugoroku consists of pictures pasted on a folding screen
used in a reception room in the New Year. No person is seen
in the scene, but there are objects like a fire tub and
a writing desk. No wonder when a nightingale would whisper
her song in the scene.
A letter box contains ceremonial gifts from New Year visitors.
The air in the room is bright and gorgeous enough although
no person is seen. A notebook is opened on the desk maybe
to write down the name of the guests, and the phrase on
the note itself a Furidashi (start) which indicates where
to jump. It's a so smart setting as Hiroshige likes.
Pictures on folding fans are the typical
things in New Year such as fresh water, visitors, shepherd's
purse, birds catcher, Sake for New Year, plum flower, pine
trees at the gate, Oi-hane, lottery, adonis, monkey circus,
comic dialogue and etc. with a Haiku along each. An example
of monkey play, "Monkey circus, the whip has dust on it
because of no sweeping". There used to be a custom not to
sweep during the New Year while hating the sweeping out
of luck. For plum flower, "There fall plum flowers, on the
swept up snow", and for lottery, "Kids are asking a lucky
direction of the year, to win the desirables on lottery".
The lottery in those days was made in paper strings twisted
tight like wire on which the name of premiums were written
in. Kids drew and stretch them facing a lucky direction
in order to win favorable premiums.
The Haiku in Agari (goal) fan illustrated
with flying red head cranes reads, "Everyone shows relaxing
face in the first sunrise". We cannot feel the atmosphere
like this now any more while tap water is provided everywhere
even in country side instead of drawing from the pond, no
custom of comic dialogue nor monkey play in the New Year.
Although Hiroshige seems to have drawn this picture in a
very relaxing style, you can find his decent touch in the
decoration of screen, in the paint of fire tub or in fine
gilt work on the screen. ...... A gorgeous and elegant work
which proves the height of professional technique of Edo