Wondrous Views of Famous Bridges in All the Provinces: Fukui Bridge in Echizen Province
(Shokoku Meikyo Kiran: Echizen Fukui no hashi)
signed zen Hokusai Iitsu hitsu, published by Nishimuraya Yohachi (Eijudo), ca. 1834
oban yoko-e 9 7/8 by 14 5/8 in., 25.2 by 37 cm
Hokusai depicts a lively view of travelers crossing the Tsukumo Bridge over the Asuwa River located near the Kitanosho Castle in Fukui City in Echizen Province. The famous bridge was constructed in 1575 by the warlord Shibata Katsuie (1522-1583), who committed suicide and burned down his castle (not, apparently, in that order) in the face of a military defeat in 1583. His bridge was notable for its distinctive design, with one half constructed of wood, and the other half made of stone. The wood half, to the south, was closer to the castle and could be destroyed to slow or prevent the advance of enemy forces, while leaving the stone half intact which would facilitate restoration when the danger abated.
Asano Shugo suggests that while it is unlikely that Hokusai had ever visited Fukui, he could have derived inspiration from a gazetteer such as Nihon sankai meibutsu zue (Famous Products of Land and Sea in Japan) published in 1754, which noted that Echizen was famous for its high-quality hosho paper, long sheets of which are seen drying on racks in the distance. As is typical for this design, Nishimura Yohachi did not apply his usual Eijudo seal, however, it seems there was little need to do so because Hokusai obliged with the publisher's familiar tomo-e trademark found on bundles carried by travelers on the bridge.
Seiji Nagata, Hokusai: Genius of the Japanese Ukiyo-e, 1995, p. 48, no. 46
Gian Carlo Calza, Hokusai: Il vecchio pazzo per la pittura, 1999, p. 335, no. V.47.3
Gian Carlo Calza, Hokusai, 2003, p. 321, no. V.47.3
Tim Clark, ed., Hokusai: Beyond The Great Wave, The British Museum, 2017, p. 156, no. 77 (note by Asano Shugo)
Mori Arts Center Gallery, Hokusai Updated, 2019, p. 196, no. 332 (Shimane Art Museum, Nagata Collection)
Sarah E. Thompson, Hokusai's Landscapes: The Complete Series, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2019, p. 134-35, no. 76
(inv. no. 10-5287)
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