To capitalize on the great success in the 1830s of Hiroshige’s landscape series of the Tokaido and Kisokaido roads, the publisher Koshimuraya Heisuke embarked on the ambitious project that resulted in Sixty-odd Views of the Provinces, released between 1851 and 1853. He engaged Hiroshige to design single views of famous spots in each of Japan’s sixty-eight provinces, which are identified in the title cartouche of each print. The complete set, as here, has a table of contents, the sixty-eight views and an extra print of the Year-end Festival at Asakusa, Edo.
About ten years later, the American artist James McNeill Whistler used his own prints from Sixty-odd Views in staging the Irish model Joanna Hifferman as a Japanese courtesan for his painting Caprice in Purple and Gold. The woman sits on the floor wrapped in oriental-style robes beside a Japanese folding screen; her attention is focused on a single sheet from Sixty-odd Views of the Provinces, while others are strewn around her (James McNeill Whistler [1834-1903]. Caprice in Purple and Gold: The Golden Screen. 1864. Oil on panel. 50.1 x 68.5 cm framed. Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1904.75a).