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Girl on Bicycle

Posted by Dave Bull at 9:04 PM, May 23, 2005

The previous print didn't have much explicit 'seasonal' content, so it could have appeared anywhere in the set; this image also isn't very strongly 'typed' for season, but I think it suits a sunny May day perfectly!

This is a reproduction, but as usual, I can't leave things alone, and have adapted it a little. What you see here is one small area 'clipped' from a full o-ban size print - one of the images in the set Azuma Fuzoku, (Household Scenes from the East) created by Chikanobu in Meiji 34 (1901). I have admired the prints in this series for a long time, and just a couple of months ago was able to obtain a number of them from an internet auction. When I was checking over the new acquisitions I noticed this young girl and immediately decided that she belonged in the Hanga Treasure Chest.

I imagine that the Meiji viewers' attention was drawn mainly to the exotic bicycle, but these days, a bicycle is nothing special at all; it is the young girl's clothing that seems unusual to us! I wonder just how common such a scene must have been back in those days? I can well imagine older folks 'tut-tutting' at the idea of a young girl sailing along in kimono on one of those 'new-fangled' contraptions, but I'm sure most young people were eager to embrace all the new technologies. Actually, this looks a bit dangerous; those long sleeves could easily catch in the spinning wheels. Perhaps that 'thrill' was part of the attraction!

Just what is it that I 'saw' in this image that made me want to use it? I honestly can't say. I used to ask print dealers here in Tokyo to 'keep your eyes open for images that I can use in my work', showing them many of the prints I had made so far, and expecting that this would give them a good idea of what kind of thing to look for. I have learned that this is completely pointless - after all, if I myself can't understand what makes an image 'just right' for one of my albums, how can I expect anybody else to do so!

So all I can do is keep scouting around as much as I can, and trust to serendipity to strike now and then!

Monday, May 23, 2005

(Here's the print in context in the Treasure Chest series.)


Following comment posted by: Gayle Wohlken on May 30, 2005 11:20 PM

I don't know if I have much to discuss about this. The colors are pleasing to me and I like the flow of her hair. Is the umbrella shielding her from the sun, or is riding through rain? I see a hint of rain in the background, yet nothing splashing under the wheels. I always like the complications of fabric folded upon itself or moving with the wind.

Following comment posted by: Christian Schulte on June 29, 2005 11:18 PM

I agree with the comment above. The hair is a nice view. The umbrella i suppose is meant to avoid sunshine. One must keep in mind the temperatures during japanese summer and the strength of sunshine. Still today people carry parasols throughout japan. (which seems to have come out of fashion or out of peoples mind at least in germany)

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