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THE ARTIST – HIROSHIGE III

Utagawa Hiroshige was a well-known Japanese artist born in 1797, working his art until 1858.  During his time, Hiroshige created beautiful pieces under several additional names such as Andro Hiroshige, Andro Hiroshige, and Ichiyusai Hiroshige.  This artist’s father was a hereditary retainer of the shogun, working to protect the Edo castle as a member of the fire-fighting organization.  Working this reputable and decent-paying job, Hiroshige’s father lived along with 30 other samurai officials in barracks.  As a part of this job, the men would oversee some 300 lower ranking workers.  Some of the woodblock prints coming out of the Kano school show firefighters being taught by other firefighters. 

The interesting aspect of Hiroshige’s work is that much of it had a slight modern look.  However, one piece in particular stands out called the ”Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji” in which he captured 36 unique views of the same mountain in Ukiyo-e styling.  This and other Hiroshige landscape work is, reportedly among some of the most beautiful that were ever created.  Even though his work was popular, to make financial ends meet, he supplemented his income by making crafts. 

It seemed a likely choice for Hiroshige to choose landscape as his favorite venue since he often played with miniature landscapes as a child.  Then beginning his painting career at a very young age and with extreme success, Hiroshige was destined to become a famous Japanese woodblock artist.  Taking his natural talent along with his teaching at the Kano school by Okajima Rinsai catapulted his career. 

Although Hiroshige completed his apprenticeship under Toyohiro at age 15, he was given the name Utagawa Toyohiro, rather than Toyokuni.  However, he would soon take his master’s name of Ichiyusai Hiroshige.  Early works by Hiroshige included “Ten Famous Places in the Eastern Capital” and “Eight Views of Lake Biwa”.  While these particular woodblock prints were sold, their success was only mild.  Most historians believe he spent much of his time under Toyohiro painting small, insignificant objects such as fans. 

His first real success with painting landscapes was with a series called “The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido”, which was prompted after Hiroshige visited the Tokaido Road after being asked to visit the embassy of Shogunal officials in the Imperial Court.  Hiroshige remained in the barracks until age 43, holding the fire protection position once held by his father, which had been passed to him at the age of 12 when his father died.  Dedicated to fire fighting, Hiroshige continued this service even when he had become very successful as a painter of woodblock prints. 

Hiroshige II was a young artist by the name of Shigenobu, marrying Hiroshige’s own daughter.  After he and his wife separated, Shigenobu began to use the name of Hiroshige, thus becoming the II.  When Tatsu, the estranged wife remarried a man named Shigemasa, he not only became Hiroshige’s heir but also worked as a firefighter.  Eventually, Hiroshige turned everything over to Shigemasa, now known as Hiroshige III, which occurred in 1832.  Unfortunately, the master Hiroshige was an amazing artist and a very successful one at that but both Hiroshige II and III were not nearly as gifted. 

Even when Hiroshige began to age, he continued painting, producing literally thousands of beautiful prints.  By 1856, Hiroshige finally retired at which time he transitioned to a Buddhist monk, the same year his work on “100 Famous Views of Edo” began.  Sadly, this magnificent woodblock print artist died at the age of 62, being buried in Asakusa in a Zen Buddhist temple.


Read more about Japanese Woodblock Prints:
  Japanese Woodblock Prints   Ukiyo-e   Toyokuni Utagawa   Eisen Kikugawa   Hiroshige Ando   Utamaro Kitigawa

 

Visit our online store for dozens of Japanese Woodblock Prints

Click here to see our current selection.
 
The Great Wave by Hokusai
The Great Wave by Hokusai
Code:fw1002
Price:$27.95
Kabuki by Utagawa
Kabuki by Utagawa
Code:fw1121
Price:$27.95
3 Beauties by Utamaro
3 Beauties by Utamaro
Code:fw1118
Price:$27.95
General in Battle by Utagawa
General in Battle by Utagawa
Code:fw1120
Price:$27.95
Mt Fuji by Hiroshige
Mt Fuji by Hiroshige
Code:fw1010
Price:$27.95
 

 


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