Artist: Ando Hiroshige Woodblock Print
Originally born under the name of Ando Tokutaro in Edo, he later changed his name to Ando Hiroshige, and established himself as one of the greatest masters of Chinese woodblock printing: the ‘ukiyo-e’. His father was a fireman working in the Edo Castle, where Hiroshige first found himself exposed to an artistic front. Redefining the genre of Japanese landscape prints, Hiroshige received the opportunity of joining the renowned ‘Utagawa Painting School’ at the age of 14, two years after his parents passed away.
Though Hiroshige’s work went unnoticed until 1832, he published ‘The 53 Stations of the Tokaido’ between 1832-1833 which later became one of his master series. Capturing the voyage of the Tokaido road with the highway connecting Edo to the Capital, Kyoto, he walked right through the age-old traditions against travel and created an encouragement for urban travel artists. With the modernisation of woodblock printing via these series by Hiroshige, the artist climbed the ladder to becoming one of the better known and successful ‘ukioyo-e’ artists. His works preceding this series grabbed him even higher amounts of attention and enormous success, such as the ‘kacho-e’, bird-and-flower picture among numerous others.
Though Hiroshige’s life was reduced by the Edo cholera epidemic and he passed away at 60, the artist created a movement with his work and so, his prints continue to do. The landscape of Japan and the day-to-day works of the Japanese still bear the largest audience, characterizing Hiroshige’s work by his tender and lyrical work. Influencing the impressionists and post-impressionists of Europe, Hiroshige’s approach started finding its way into other artists’ pieces to expand its branches far and wide. Toulouse-Lautrec showed fascination by Hiroshige’s use of unconventional use of perspective and diagonal strokes, while Van Gogh didn’t shy away from copying two of his prints from his crowned ‘100 Famous Views of Edo’ oil painted series.
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