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April 27 – September 8, 2024

東海道 Tōkaidō

Dreamscapes by Andō Hiroshige

Conflating the real and the imaginary, the series “Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō” transports us on the legendary route that connected Edo (Tokyo) to the former imperial capital of Japan, Kyōto. These prints demonstrate how Hiroshige and his publishing team masterfully recast a landscape into a dream.

The story of a dream and its realization

In 1833, the unconventional artist Andō Hiroshige set out to revolutionize the woodblock publishing industry by firmly establishing the landscape print as a major theme. His first edition of the “Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō” – the complete set of which is in the Museum’s collection – treats the landscape and its atmospheric appeal as subjects in their own right, a novelty at the time in Japan.

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A visionary journey

Inspired by earlier travel guides and magazines that had been circulating in Japan since the 18th century, this imaginary work enthralled the masses, sparking a desire in them to embark on this 500-kilometre journey. Their sentimental response to this quest would make the series and the artist a resounding success.

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This exhibition looks at Hiroshige’s talent as the maker of a world everybody wanted to buy into and inhabit, and the publishing industry that made the dream come true.

Credits and curatorial team

An exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition is curated by Laura Vigo, Curator of Asian Art at the MMFA.

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Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Kanbara, Night Snow (蒲原 夜之雪), no. 16 from the series “Fifty‑three Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), 24.2 x 36.5 cm (sheet), 22.4 x 35.2 cm (image), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858), Goyu, Women Stopping Travellers (御油 旅人留女), no. 36 from the series “Fifty‑three Stations of the Tōkaidō,” about 1833-1834, woodblock print (nishiki-e), 24.3 x 36.6 cm (sheet), 22.9 x 35.3 cm (image), publisher: Takenouchi Magohachi (Hoeidō). MMFA, gift of Mary Fraikin in memory of her father, Maurice van Ysendyck. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

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