Some of Henri Riviere’s “36 Views of the Eiffel Tower.” are in the Phillips’ exhibition, Snapshot: Paintings and Photography, from Bonnard to Vuillard. Five Metro stops away, the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery is hosting an exhibition of Katsushika Hokusai’s “36 Views of Mt. Fuji.” The Cherry Blossom Festival just celebrated the100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of cherry trees to Washington, DC, a capital city based on French urban design patterns. These exhibitions coincided with that event.
The Sackler exhibition has selected the most vivid images available of Hokusai’s woodblock prints and the colors are vibrant. Blues predominate, but most prints have at least 4 other hues. Riviere’s images are printed as color lithographs with more neutral color harmonies. French artists admired Japanese woodblock prints and Riviere owned at least 800 of them. The Phillips’ exhibition–definitely worth the visit–also has small paintings and many photographs by Post-Impressionist artists such as Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, George Hendrik Breitner, Henri Evenepoel and Felix Valloton.
Both artists create different atmospheric effects, including the effects of wind, snow and various cloud formations. In many prints by each artist, the subjects, Mt. Fuji or the Eiffel Tower, are subordinated to other scenery. Yet, Riviere used Hokusai’s examples as inspiration rather than imitation.
that Riviere did shadow plays for
Le Chat Noir (the Black Cat).
Warehouses line a canal to form diagonal lines which lead first, to Edo Castle, then to Mt. Fuji, on the upper left corner, (No 31 – Nihonbashi at Edo)
Hokusai and Riviere take the viewers through a yearly cycle of changing
weather conditions. Hokusai’s work dates to 1830-32.
exhibition, along with the lithograph above based on one of those pictures
Hokusai is one of Japan’s greatest artists. There are two more exhibitions of paintings and screens by Hokusai in the Freer Gallery of Asian Art, which holds the world’s largest collection of Hokusai and is attached to the Sackler Gallery. The rarely-seen Boy Viewing Mt. Fuji, ink on silk, is in a medium too fragile for continuous display, but it is included with the Hokusai paintings.