Advent Calendar Day 1

EAX4368 Yuhi Hill and Drum Bridge at Meguro

Yuhi Hill and Drum Bridge at Meguro by Utagawa Hiroshige

The unusual arched bridge in this wintry landscape was known as a ‘drum bridge’ because of its shape and was based on Chinese models. Stone structures were rare in Edo, a city of frequent earthquakes.

Overlooking the bridge is the Yūhi or ‘Sunset’ Hill of the print title. The snow-covered roof half hidden behind the signature cartouche on the lower right was the Shōgatsuya tea house, famous for its sweet bean-paste soup.

Hiroshige has skilfully depicted the chilly silence of a snowy afternoon. The contrast of the white background with the intense blue of the river and accents of red in the cartouches emphasizes the calmness of the scene.

The snow and snowflakes are depicted by leaving unprinted spots on the paper, which stand out against the dark blues of the river and sky - a technique used in traditional Chinese and Japanese ink painting. The bridge itself is set at a slight diagonal to the picture plane, which adds to the feeling of isolation.

Yuhi Hill and Drum Bridge at Meguro, 1857 
Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858)

Woodblock print with bokashi (tonal gradation)
​​​​​37.5 x 25.1 cm