Distant View of Mansei Bridge

Baido Kunimasa
Distant View of Mansei Bridge (Mansei-bashi tôkei no zu), from the series Famous Places of Tokyo (Tôkyô meisho)「東京名所 萬世橋遠景之図」
This artist took a confusing number of names. His original name is Takenouchi Hidehisa. He is also known as Kunimasa IV (early in his career), Baido Kunimasa (around 1873 - 1888), Utagawa Kunisada III (in 1889), and Baido Hosai (after 1892). Later he claimed to be Toyokuni IV. As this name was already taken by someone else he has to be considered Toyokuni V. Besides the confusing number of names, he produced excellent kabuki related prints.(Japanese, 1848–1920)

"The print depicts a large gathering of Tokyo locals at, what seems to be, the East Imperial Gardens (evidenced by the well-groomed chrysanthemums and Manseibashi Bridge in the background). Throughout the print, you can find not only the Japanese national flag but the Military flag and the Emperor’s flag. The presence of so many national and cultural symbols suggests the event occurring in this garden is of great national and societal importance. The man in the middle, more decorated than the rest, would likely be the Emperor. In the crowd of women, the Empress stands out because of her jūnihitoe (multi-layered kimono) and golden hairpiece. Though it is not explicitly stated anywhere in the print or by the artist, this could be a depiction of the first chrysanthemum-viewing party sponsored by the Emperor in his gardens in 1878.  The women are wearing elegant kimonos, while the men are taking cues from American-military formal events, and wearing their uniforms. The print cuts distance with red fog to feature the Manseibashi Bridge, the first Western-style bridge built in Japan, to highlight another Japanese variation of Western culture."
Publisher: Hayashi Kichizô 
Date: 1878 (Meiji 11), September
Condition: Very good color and impression, not backed.