|Utagawa (Ando) Hiroshige
The Japanese style of printmaking known as Ukiyo-e (oo-kee-yoh-ay),
or "pictures of the floating world," first gained popularity in the seventeenth
century. During the nineteenth century, two Ukiyo-e masters became legendary.
One of these artists was Katsushika Hokusai (kah-tsoo-shee-kah hok-sigh),
and the other was Utagawa (Ando) Hiroshige (on-doh hear-oh-shee-geh).
Hiroshige was born in Edo (now Tokyo), Japan. When both of his parents
died within a year of each other, the young Hiroshige became an apprentice
at the school of Utagawa Toyohiro, an Ukiyo-e master.
as an artist is usually divided into three distinct periods. The first
(1811-30) is considered his student period. In those early years, Hiroshige
created prints of traditional subjects, including young women, actors,
and samurai. During the second period (1830-44), Hiroshige reached maturity
as an artist and also achieved fame and success in his career. Hiroshige
began creating landscape prints during this period, as well as bird-and-flower
designs, for which he became famous. In the third and final period of
his career (1844-58), Hiroshige continued to produce landscape prints.
This period saw a decline in print quality, however, as the artist rushed
to meet the demands for his popular work.
The quality considered most
unique in Hiroshige's work is the sense of atmosphere he created. His
landscapes convey a delicate, poetic mood. His ability to suggest far-reaching
scenes using just a few brushstrokes earned him the moniker, "artist of
the sweeping brush." It is estimated that Hiroshige created a total of
5,400 prints during his lifetime.