Hiroshige

Swallows and Kingfisher with Rose Mallows (1838)

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About The Art

Two swallows swoop down from above, while a kingfisher perches above a rose mallow and dips its beak into the flower.

The details of the birds and flowers are sharp, and the intensity of the color and vigor of the movement gives this print a lively quality. Meanwhile, the soothing bokashi shading of the abstract background provides room to breathe and balances out the vivid colors and details.

Prints in this genre as are known as kacho-e (birds and flowers prints), which focus on carefully observed birds, insects, fish and flowers, generally seen in their natural habitats. Hiroshige produced a large number of such prints, and was apparently influenced by Western realism, which had begun to influence Japanese art at the time, with the arrival of Dutch traders and European zoological encyclopedias in old Edo.