Hiroshige

Trout (1832-33) - Fine Art Print

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About The Art

Five river trout glide through calm waters.

The fish in this piece, produced as a private commission, are notable for the accurate observation of the heads and the way the bodies appear three-dimensional. Although swimming fish were a common subject in Japanese art, they were generally represented as idealized "lucky" fish, rather than in such a true-to-life manner.

The poem on the left (by Haruzono Shizue) reads:

"The falling of the autumn rain does not disturb the beauty of the trout in the Tamagawa river; no dirt has sullied their shining skin." 

Western visual and artistic concepts had begun to penetrate Japan by Hiroshige's time, and this is clearly visible in some of his depictions of fish. Perhaps due to the influence of zoological encyclopedias, as well as Dutch still life, Hiroshige made use of precise observation to create realistic-looking fish.

In this series, known as "Every Variety of Fish" or "Grand Series of Fishes", Hiroshige designed four series of ten prints. Beautifully detailed varieties of fish and sea life are presented with grasses or plants against soft bokashi shading. Generally the animals are arranged as food, rather than living, breathing creatures. Originals from this series are scarce.

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. 

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