The purple irises, rising up in simple beauty have always captivated me in this print by Ando Hiroshige.
I fell in love with the technique, mastery, and aesthetic look of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints in a Japanese Art History class taken during my sophomore year.
That class, along with a Prints Study class, taught me to appreciate the skill, time, and thoughtfulness that went into making woodblock prints. Hiroshige’s Hundred Views of Edo and Hokusai’s print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji contain some of my favorite Ukiyo-e prints.
But this particular print from Hiroshige’s Meisho Edo Hiakke series is exceptional for me. Irises are the main focus in the scene, and they obscure the full view of the background in simple lines and soft curves. This print depicts the gardens of Horikiri but Hiroshige’s method of making this iconographical connection is unique. The gardens themselves are off in the distance, not the focus of the print at all. It is such a clever and unconventional way of depicting a famous place in Edo.
I am equally impressed with Hiroshige’s use of perspective and depth, given that such effects were not commonly utilized in many of the flat, two-dimensional woodblock prints of this time.
What I love most about this print however, is the vantage point. I always feel a sense of calm when looking at this scene, as if I’m sitting amongst the tall irises, looking out over the garden. I have ambitious plans to become a print collector, and this is my most coveted print.
— Virginia Van Dine, Fall 2013