Arguably the series of prints Pictures of Famous Places in Tokyo (1876–81) is the most memorable and groundbreaking work by Kobayashi Kiyochika. It offers unique perspectives on sites in and around the capital city as it underwent vast physical and social change during the Meiji era (1868–1912). Kiyochika focused particularly on how the light created by modern technology transformed views of Tokyo. As well, the artist’s presentations of dawn, dusk, and night evoked a pensive mood suggesting a personal uncertainty in a moment of major societal change.
This single and rare woodblock print depicting the First National Bank on a gray, snowy day was created early in a project that ultimately produced ninety-six works. The museum holds seventy-nine works from the series. These were part of the 2003 bequest from the Robert O. Muller estate, a world-famous collection of more than four thousand prints with particular strengths in the period from 1850 to 1950.