Imai Bridge, spanning the Edo River, connects Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture. The old wooden bridge has been replaced; the current bridge dates from 1979. This is a classic piece by Kawase Hasui as part of his series "One Hundred Views of New Tōkyō" (Shin Tōkyō hyakkei).
In 1918, the Watanabe Shōzaburō publishing house contracted Hasui to begin producing print designs, a partnership between the publishing house and Hasui that would continue through the 1950s. Hasui published works based on his hometown of Shiobara like the series Shiobara Okanemichi (The Okane Path at Shiobara), Sojoji no Yuki (Snow at Sojoji Temple), Tokyo Junikagetsu (Twelve Months of Tokyo), Azabu Ninohashi no Gogo (Afternoon at Ninohashi in Azabu), Shiba Zojoji (Shiba Zojoji Temple), Shin Tokyo Hyakkei (One Hundred Views of New Tokyo), and Shiba Daimon no Yuki (Snow at Shiba Daimon). At the time, Watanabe was the leading force and producer of shin-hanga prints. Hasui’s published work through Watanabe was immensely popular and profitable, especially prints exported to the United States. In 1930, Hasui exhibited 92 prints at the Toledo Museum Art annual exhibition in Toledo, Ohio. The American and art connoisseur Robert O. Muller also pushed for Hasui’s work to be recognized and collected in America.
Few artists can capture both the details and mood of a scene in a woodblock like Kawase Hasui. This print, referred to as "Evening Shower at Imai Bridge" or "Sudden Shower at Imai Bridge", captures the scene of a woman caught in the middle of the bridge in a downpour. The sky is dark, the clouds are swirling and have just opened up, the rain and wind coming at an angle forcing the woman to lean her umbrella into the pelting rain.
The Woodblock Print
This seems to be the 1932 edition of the piece with the publisher's 6mm seal, published by Shozaburo Watanabe. Strong color throughout, light discoloration in the lower left area, but unknown source as it wasn't from the matting. Margins intact but aged, tiny pin-holes in the top margin where it was likely pinned to a wall for display. Incredibly rich atmosphere in this print, great color and vibrancy to the person on the bridge and their unbrella.
The print measures 15 1/2" x 10 1/4", with the image measuring 14 3/8" x 9 1/2".
Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) was born to a textile dealer as the first son. His uncle was Kanagaki Robun, a famous playwrite. A pupil of Kaburaki Kiyokata who gave him the Go of “Hasui”. Afterwards, he got to know Watanabe Shozaburo, then had a chance to see “Omi Hakkei” created by Ito Shinsui from the same school as his, which brought about an interest in the woodblock printing. In 1918, he released three pieces of “Shiobara” from Watanabe Printshop, afterwards, produced a number of landscape prints throughout his life.