Andō Hiroshige
Rain Shower at Shōno
1832 - 1834

Signed: Hiroshige ga; Publisher’s seal: Ho’eidō han (Takeuchi Magohachi) and Takenouchi Magosaburō (on the umbrella); ōban, yoko-e, 24.04 x 35.5 cm; nishiki-e with fukibokashi

Print 46 (station no. 45) from “53 Stations of the Tōkaidō”. The first Tōkaidō series published by Ho’eidō between 1832 and 1834 was virtually a best seller, since the first printing blocks for some of the designs were used to make as many as 20,000 prints. Like Kanbara (cf. cat. 208), Shonō too is considered among the masterpieces of this cycle. The movement, drama and sophisticated composition of this print are fascinating. On the umbrella held by the farmer on the right, the name of the publisher “Takenouchi” and gojūsantsugi (“series of 53”) can be deciphered.

A.Lemp, Zurich (June 1963)
Riese Collection #152

Haku’u, the word translated as shower in the title above literally means “white rain”, a fine, driving squall, that covers the landscape with a veil of light grey, rather than a dark and heavy downpour. The earliest impressions of the print, accordingly, are those, like the one reproduced in Ledoux, Hiroshige to Hokusai, no. 31, where the farthest row of bamboos is a uniform light grey, only slightly darker that the sky. In early impressions, the rooftops at the lower right are often quite light, but always have overprinted dark grey shadows among the bamboo that is close to the road in the right-hand corner. By contrast, the Riese impression has a strong dark grey on the tops of the farthest bamboos and lacks the overprinting in the right-hand corner. This in spite of the fact that it has the name of the publisher, Takeuchi, on the umbrella, which is often taken as a mark of an early impression.