Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido, Organized by the Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania
Jacques-Gérard Milbert’s Picturesque Itinerary: the Birth of American Tourism
On March 10, the Albany Institute will open two exhibitions that illustrate the art of travel as represented through two remarkable print series, one by the master Japanese printmaker Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858) and the other from pictures by the French natural scientist and draughtsman Jacques-Gérard Milbert (1766–1840). Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido is an exhibition organized by the Reading Public Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania, and features fifty-five woodblock prints, a carved woodblock used in the printing process, and a map showing the stations along Japan’s Tokaido Road. Jacques-Gérard Milbert’s Picturesque Itinerary: the Birth of American Tourism is organized by the Albany Institute and features Milbert’s fifty-three lithographic prints and map that are part of the Institute’s collection. Early guidebooks, travel broadsides, Japanese netsuke, swords, travel accouterments, and other objects related to both print series will be exhibited in an adjoining gallery.
In 1828 and 1829, when the Milbert published a series of fifty-three lithographic prints depicting scenic views and tourist destinations in the eastern United States, it preceded only by a few years a similar series of woodblock prints issued by Hiroshige that is known as Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido. Hiroshige’s color-printed series depicts scenic locations along Japan’s Tokaido Road as they appeared in 1832 when Hiroshige traveled the thoroughfare on foot. The Tokaido was Japan’s eastern highway linking the cities of present-day Tokyo and Kyoto and was used by sightseers, pilgrims to religious shrines, provincial lords traveling for official business, and others. Milbert’s series captures American tourist sites and scenic overlooks at time when American tourism was and leisure travel was just developing. Scenes of Saratoga Springs, the Hudson River Highlands, and West Point Military Academy are only a few of the attractions that captivated tourists in the early nineteenth century. Both print series record in detail the scenery, people, and buildings travelers encountered as they journeyed across the landscape in different parts of the world.