THE CLOUD MEN IN HAKONE (Utagawa Hiroshige)

N.1 ukiyo-e woodblock print
Period: 1840-42
Condition: good
Size: 22,5 x 16,5 cm



Remembered in the proverb / as the cloud men, / even in the evening / the bearers cross the paths / of those mountains (ことわざに / 雲ともいへる / 人なれや / かゝる山路を / 夜るも越ゆく). The words of the kyoka (狂歌) poem by Tomikien Mitsuharu (富黄園満春), written on the right side of the work, accompany this depiction of the famous kumosuke (雲助) bearers that we see here in Hakone (箱根) which, at an elevation of 725 meters, was the highest post station of the Tokaido (東海道).

This precious woodblock print, made between 1840 and 1842 by the artist Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重), is the eleventh panel of the “Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road” (東海道五拾三次), a series also known as the “Kyoka Tokaido” (狂歌入東海道) due to the presence, precisely, of poetic compositions combined with the stations of the famous route that connected Edo (江戸) or today’s Tokyo (東京), the shogun’s capital, with the imperial capital Kyoto (京都).

The print on Japanese washi paper (和紙), produced by the publisher Sanoya Kihei (佐野屋喜兵衛), owner of Kikakudo (喜鶴堂), despite the evident patina of time and a small imperfection on the lower margin, is in overall good condition.