imuse_header

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hiroshige


One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. #72
The Benten Shrine and the Ferry at Haneda, Landscape From Boat Man's Perspective
c.1858
ukiyo-e woodblock print
private collection

Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, actually composed of 118 splendid woodblock landscape and genre scenes of mid-nineteenth-century Tokyo, is one of the greatest achievements of Japanese art. It is a celebration of the style and world of Japan's finest cultural flowering at the end of the shogunate.
In 1856, Hiroshige "retired from the world," becoming a Buddhist monk; this was the year he began his One Hundred Famous Views of Edo.

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797 - 1858) was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist, and one of the last great artists in that tradition. He was also referred to as Ando Hiroshige. He transmuted everyday landscapes into intimate, lyrical scenes that made him even more successful than his contemporary, Hokusai.

Hiroshige was born in Edo (now Tokyo) and at first, like his father, was a fire warden. The prints of Hokusai are said to have first kindled in him the desire to become an artist. With Hokusai, Hiroshige dominated the popular art of Japan in the first half of the 19th century with his unique brand of intimate, almost small-scale works compared against the older traditions of landscape painting. The travel prints generally depict travelers along famous routes experiencing the special attractions of various stops along the way. They travel in the rain, in snow, and during all of the seasons.
His work was not as bold or innovative as that of the older master, but he captured, in a poetic, gentle way that all could understand, the ordinary person's experience of the Japanese landscape as well as the varied moods of memorable places at different times. He captured, in a poetic, gentle way that all could understand, the ordinary person's experience of the Japanese landscape as well as the varied moods of memorable places at different times. His total output was immense, some 5400 prints in all.

Hiroshige’s woodblock prints greatly influenced French Impressionists such as Monet, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, etc..
He died of cholera on October 12, 1858, in Edo.
Just before his death, he left a poem:
    "I leave my brush in the East
    And set forth on my journey.
    I shall see the famous places in the Western Land."
(The Western Land in this context refers to the strip of land between Kyoto and Tokyo, but it does double duty as a reference to the Paradise of the Amida Buddha).

Ukiyo-e is a main genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theater, and pleasure quarters. 
http://www.imaginarymuseum.net/view/flipcard