June 21, 2012
August 12, 2012
Honolulu Museum of Art
The Eight Views of Ōmi, a print series of images depicting Japan’s Lake Biwa and its surroundings, became an enormously popular theme amongst Edo-period (1615-1868) ukiyo-e artists. Based upon poems by Prince Konoe Masaie (1444-1505) and his son Konoe Naomichi (d. 1544), who was in turn inspired by landscape paintings from the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties, the eight images display the inherent beauty of seasonal changes and daily events near Lake Biwa: the autumn moon as seen from Ishiyama Temple, the snow lingering on Mount Hira, the sunset viewed from Seta, the sound of Mii Temple’s evening bell, the ships returning to Yabase Harbor, the clearing skies of Awazu, Karasaki’s night rain, and a flock of geese descending upon Katata.
Beginning in the early 18th century, these scenarios were faithfully illustrated by artists such as Suzuki Harunobu (1725?-1770) and Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). Soon thereafter, Isoda Koryūsai (1735-1790) and his contemporaries began to comment whimsically on the popularity of the series by using it as a thinly veiled conceit to depict fashionable portraits of courtesans and warriors. This exhibition explores faithful and satirical approaches to The Eight Views of Ōmi, revealing the ingenuity with which some artists revitalized the traditional theme even as others reinvented them entirely.