collections

Utagawa Hiroshige: Last Great Master of Ukiyo-e

dsd
Mount Utsu, Okabe, 1832
Considered the last great master of the ukiyo-e genre (“pictures of the floating world”), the Japanese artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858) was a hugely influential figure, not only in his homeland but also on Western painting. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, as a part of the trend in “Japonism”, European artists such as Monet, Whistler, and Cézanne, looked to Hiroshige’s work for inspiration, and a certain Vincent van Gogh was known to paint copies of his prints.

Hiroshige was born in 1797 to a samurai family in Edo (modern Tokyo). After his parents died, around the age of fourteen, Hiroshige began to take up painting and studied for several years under the artist Toyohiro. During this period he produced many works reflecting traditional ukiyo-e themes such as women and actors, but upon Toyohiro’s death in 1928 he underwent a pronounced shift toward the landscapes for which he is best known today, as well as bird and flower images. His most famous series include Famous Views of the Eastern Capital (1831), The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō (1833–1834), The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidō (1834–1842) and Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (1852–1858).

In 1856, around the age of 60, Hiroshige “retired from the world”, becoming a Buddhist monk. Two years later he passed away (during the great Edo cholera epidemic, though it’s not known if this was the cause of death) and was buried in a Zen temple in Asakusa. Just before his passing, he wrote the following poem:

I leave my brush in the East
And set forth on my journey.
I shall see the famous places in the Western Land.

Across his lifetime Hiroshige is thought to have produced a colossal 8000 prints. In this post we’ve gathered just a few highlights, from the fairly expansive collection housed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and all of which are available to buy as high-quality prints in our online shop.

h
The Plum Garden at Kameido Shrine, 1857
h
Jumansubo Plain in Susaki near Fukagawa, 1857
h
Maiko Beach in Harima Province, 1853
h
The Fox Trap, ca. 1845
h
Blooming Irises in Horikiri, 1857
h
Mossy Trunk and Cherry Blossoms, 1837
h
Number Four of the Tokaido, 1850
h
Temple Grounds of the Akiba Shrine in Ukiji, 1857
Carp Swimming Against a Waterfall, 1852
h
Ukifune, ca. 1845
h
Seascape in Satta in the Suruga Province, 1858
h
Trout, ca. 1835
h
“Fox Fires” on New Year’s Eve at the Shozoku Nettle Tree in Oji, 1857
h
Cuckoo and Pine, 1840
h
Unexpected Rainfall on the Big Bridge at Atake, 1857
h
Fireworks at the Ryogoku Bridge, 1858
All the prints above are available to buy as high-quality prints in our online shop