Keisai Eisen
Distant View of Frozen Lake Suwa from Shiojiri Pass

Publishers: (red seal) Ho’eidō (Takeuchi Magohachi) and logo (on saddle blanket of pack horse) (Iseya Rihei); ōban. yoko-e. 21.5 x 33.0 cm; nishiki-e

Print 31 from “The Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kisokaidō”, later edition. This cycle was designed by Eisen and Hiroshige between 1834 and 1842. Eisen and Ho’eidō initially created 20 prints, and then later Hiroshige and Kinjudō took over the project and one of the two original publisher’s seals was removed, while the second seal, “Ho’eidō”, was maintained, but Eisen’s signature disappeared. This is a late edition, presumably printed around 1845. The logo of the new publisher Kinjudō (hayashi under a roof) is printed on the horse’s saddle blanket (cf. cat. 216 and 217).

Huguette Beres, Paris (October 1962)
Riese Collection #112

After the success of Hiroshige’s set of views of the Tōkaidō Road between Edo and Kyōto, Hoeidō decided to publish an even more ambitious set, this time of the less-travelled Kiso Road, which linked Edo and Kyōto by a longer, more circuitous, inland route. For this set he hired Eisen, better known as a figure artist, to design the landscapes. After designing twenty-four plates, however, Eisen abandoned this set, and the remainder of the prints were designed by Hiroshige. The reasons why Eisen gave up the project are unclear. It was certainly not from any lack of imagination, since his designs have a freshness and character unlike that of any other artist of the time. Yoshida suggests that Eisen was involved in a case of plagiarism, and imposed upon himself a voluntary seclusion. Whatever the reasons, Hoeidō also relinquished his interest in the set, and sold the blocks to Iseya Rihei, the proprietor of another firm, Kinjudō. Hoeidō had already engaged Hiroshige to continue the set, and he had designed one print. While arrangements for the transfer were taking place, Hoeidō and Kinjudō acted as joint publishers, and two prints appeared with both their marks. All subsequent prints, however, were published by Kinjudō alone. As if to efface the money of Eisen’s contribution, the new publisher removed his name from all the blocks on which it originally appeared.

This impression, then, is of the second state of the print, after Eisen’s signature which followed the series and picture title in the upper right was removed. Impressions of the first state have brown over-printing on the green beside the pathway on the right, and are often printed with a darker blue in the lower left. The shopmark of Kinjudō appears in a circle on the saddle blanket of the pack horse at the right. Interestingly, the seal of Hoeidō in the upper right remains.

Reproduced in: Ingelheim catalogue, no. 99.