Famous Views of Naniwa

Famous Views of Naniwa

Inspired by the many tales and paintings of the once-bustling city of Naniwa known today as Osaka, Hiroshige produced this intriguing series of 10 Famous Views of Naniwa in a rather unconventional manner.

The summer of 1615 saw Tokugawa Ieyasu defeat the remnants of Toyotomi Hideyoshi loyalists thus consolidating his power as shogun. However, the castle and city was badly damaged and depopulated in the process but Ieyasu and succeeding shoguns knew of its commercial importance and restored Osaka from the ashes of war. Throughout the rest of the Edo period, Osaka became an important base for transportation where goods from all over Japan were gathered and shipped. Osaka flourished as the largest economic city in Japan connected with international trading. Its strong influence was so that the price set in the Dojima Rice Market was recognised as the standard price for the whole country. As Hiroshige had only traveled as far as Kyoto during his maiden trip through the Tokaido in 1832, he based his illustrations of Naniwa on pictures found in books and paintings such as the tourist guidebook called “Famous Places of Settsu” published around 1796 in Kansai. Hiroshige chose a new style of scenic painting that focuses more on portraiture in order to best express the popular energy of the commercial city of Naniwa. Such examples are the many markets with merchants negotiating amongst each other while also depicting the many cultural activities afforded by the wealth accumulated by the merchants. While many of his other works were reprinted multiple times, this series was less commonly seen to the public when released in 1834, perhaps something for us now to appreciate more.

Series Details
Title:Famous Views of Osaka (Naniwa meisho zue)
Artist:Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858)
Period:Edo period (1615–1868)
Medium:Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:15″ x 10″ (38cm x 25cm)

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