Shooting Colors in Japan

April 2014 @ MoC


At the train station in Shin-Yurigaoka, Tokyo.






We visited this beautiful exhibition at the Ukiyo-e museum in Omotesando, Tokyo, titled HIROSHIGE BLUE.

Τhe brochure of the Hiroshige exhibition reads:

“Here we will exhibit pictures at the same period as Hiroshige and pictures depicted after his death. Vivid deep blue color came to be used frequently not only in the works of landscape pictures but also pictures of Kabuki actors and pictures of beautiful women.

Masterpieces by Hokusai titled “36 Views of Mt Fuji” had also produced using both indigo and Berlin blue in this period. Moreover, Hiroshige depicted landscapes series titled “Famous Places in the Eastern Capital” in the early days in that same period. We can see that the secret of the birth of masterpieces of landscape pictures was thanks to the existence of Berlin blue.

We can understand the fact that Berlin blue had become firmly established in the field of Ukiyo-e wood-block printing seeing such works.

Research in recent years show that it was during 1830-31 when pre-existing indigo blue changed greatly to Berlin blue (Prussian blue). Ukiyo-e prints using Berlin blue abundantly had been produced by Keisai Eisen and Katsushika Hokusai, etc, a nd gained much popularity. It can be said that the world of ukiyo-e at the time had certainly “Period Blue”.

Though we can see colorful wood-block prints at present day, Ukiyo-e wood-block prints didn’t necessarily have rich color at the beginning of history.

Though Hiroshige had been usually active in the genre of landscape picture, he depicted also many excellent masterpieces of flowers and birds pictures and pictures of beautiful women. Moreover, notable pictures can be found in the works of round fan pictures depicting the themes of manners and customs of common people and scenes from the story and others. Hiroshige’s style using blue color impressively can be seen in any genre of pictures.

Imported Red Color Aniline came to be used often from the late Edo to Meiji periods. The picture using brilliant red color which was new popular color of new age was called “Red Picture”. The sceneries of changing city of the Meiji period is depicted in red picture.”


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