Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Utagawa Hiroshige: Precursor to Modern Art
While this blog focuses mainly upon contemporary printmakers, I have selected a great master of the East, Utagawa Hiroshige a.k.a. Andō Hiroshige, to address his fine work but to also credit his impact upon the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, which as we all know has deeply impacted contemporary art. Hiroshige has been widely considered one of the last great masters of the ukiyo-e printmaking tradition. His legacy has been felt far and wide; the subject of his work differing slightly from his colleagues to emphasize landscapes and nature.
Hiroshige changed his name several times early in his life and we find he used the names Jūemon, Tokubē, and Tetsuzō. He had three sisters, one of whom died when he was a child. His mother and father both died when Hiroshige was only 12. He inherited his father’s fire warden duties and he was charged with prevention of fires at Edo Castle, a duty that left him much leisure time to pursue his interest in art.
Hiroshige—then using the name Tokutarō— began painting at the age of fourteen. He went to study at the Utagawa school, and later at the following schools: Kano, Chinese Southern ,Shiho and uki-e.
As for two of Hiroshige’s students, his daughter, Otatsu, married Chinpei Suzuki, also known as Hiroshige II, and later she married Shigemasa, who is known today as Hiroshige III. Both Hiroshige II and Hiroshige III worked in a style based upon that of Hiroshige, but neither achieved his level of success. Some of Hiroshige’s other students included Utagawa Shigemaru, Utagawa Shigekiyo, and Utagawa Hirokage.
1829-30 The Eight Views of Ōmi
1831 Ten Famous Places in the Eastern Capital
The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kiso Kaidō
1832 The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō
1834 Illustrated Places of Naniwa
1835 Famous Places of Kyoto
1834 Eight Views of Ōmi
1838 Eight Views of the Edo Environs
1848 One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
"I leave my brush in the East
And set forth on my journey.
I shall see the famous places in the Western Land."
To this day Hiroshige remains the most beloved of all Japanese printmakers, but artists from the Impressionists to the Modern period also owe a debt to his influence.