In one of the most recognizable designs of ukiyo-e, Hiroshige captures winter blooms through rich color and dynamic design. Between the blooming branches of the dramatically truncated plum tree in the foreground, the viewer looks into Edo’s famous plum garden, Umeyashiki. Located on the banks of the Sumida River, the garden was home to the “resting dragon plum,” whose low hanging branches gave the impression of a dragon flowing through the ground. While visitors admire the blooms from beyond the far fence, Hiroshige places the viewer amidst trees, close enough to admire the detail of the pale blossoms. The appeal of his tender, lyrical landscapes was not restricted to the Japanese audience. Hiroshige’s work had a profound influence on the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists of Europe: Toulouse-Lautrec was fascinated with Hiroshige’s daring compositions and inventive use of perspective, and Van Gogh literally copied this design in oil paint in 1887. Van Gogh’s tracing and completed painting can be found at Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Other impressions of this print can be found in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, British Museum, Tokyo National Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art and Edo Tokyo Museum.