I’ll write later something about the aesthetic amazement I felt looking at those prints by Hiroshige at the Musée Guimet.
For now, on the anecdotic level, I most appreciate the “vignette” aspect. It feels like we’re looking at lively instant pictures or tourists’ snapshots. Even though, it is said that some views were not created on the spot but actually reproduce pictures from an almanac, these prints present the same quality of photographs as souvenirs. Yet, they are much more minimalists than black and white photographs for example, uncluttered, they look almost bare from the numerous secondary details which overwhelm necessarily pictures of landscapes or scenes with people taken from urban everyday life (for the mechanic eye of the camera records everything).
Here, beyond realism and representation of popular life, those sketches sophisticated and spontaneous at the same time give the viewer an evocative and yet precise idea of what the artist sees and how he sees it.