Hiroshige, Kinryuzan Temple at Asakusa from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 1856. Ronin Gallery.
Quiet beneath a blanket of snow, Kinryuzan Temple rests at the end of the lane. The townspeople of Asakusa brave the cold, bundled up and huddled beneath umbrellas, as they approach the temple. The pines offer no hint of their rich green, instead appearing completely white on this winter evening. Yet, the viewer stays sheltered from the snow. Flurries continue to fall from a grey sky, collecting in eaves and umbrella ridges, but the viewer watches the scene from within another temple building. As the red lantern glows against the coming evening, the walk down snow-covered lane seems long. Kinryuzan Temple at Asakusa from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo is just one of Hiroshige's triumphs in the exhibition Masterworks of Hiroshige's Landscapes.
Through his rich color and novel compositions, Hiroshige's popularity spans from his contemporaries to modern audiences. His aesthetic served as an important inspiration for French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. From Van Gogh and Monet to Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas, each artist found inspiration in Hiroshige's daring compositions. Looking to Kinryuzan Temple, one can identify these points of influence. As the road, the treetops, the distant skyline and the low eaves construct strong, intersecting diagonals, Hiroshige creates movement and focus in the print. While the diagonals craft one point of focus, the extreme close up of the temple wall along the left edge and the red lantern overhead develops a sense of distance. Paired with rich colors, these compositional techniques evoke a fresh viewpoint for a landscape print.
With his novel approach to landscapes, Hiroshige could capture a location in its physical likeness and its emotion and spirit. In this famous view of Edo, Kinryuzan Temple at Asakusa frames the famous place within the everyday lives of its visitors. Though the structure itself takes up very little of the composition, Hiroshige creates an intimate experience of the place. As visitors brave the snow and a lantern appears close enough to touch, Hiroshige invites the viewer to step right into the scene.
Other impressions of this design can be found numerous collections such as the Chazen Museum of Art, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.