Hiroshige was a wonderful Japanese artist and master that
devoted his life to the creation of beautiful paintings, as
well as teaching students the Ukiyo-e style.
Throughout his career, this particular artist made
his mark in the world of art with magnificent pieces devoted
to scenery. Compared
to other artists, Hiroshige introduced new and exciting
ideas that made him a beloved favorite among many.
One of Hiroshige’s most incredible paintings was
called “100 Famous Views of Edo”.
Keep in mind that Edo is what we know today as the
city of Tokyo. While
Hiroshige created a number of masterpieces, this particular
series of woodblock prints was deemed as his finest.
Hiroshige used both vivid and subtle visuals,
capturing life in Edo in all the seasons but each from a
What you would notice immediately when looking at
Hiroshige’s 100 Famous Views of Edo is the detailing. In fact, these woodblock prints are so brilliant that it is
as if you could smell the various odors and fragrances in
the air while hearing conversations and other noises.
For instance, you would see dark clouds revealing
heavy downpours of rain, forcing people to find cover as
they cross over a bridge hovering above crystal, blue water.
Another depicts a bridal path with horse dung
glistening in the fall sunlight. In the background, people are milling about while a red
temple light plays off the white snow.
The scenes captured in this series were from 1856 and
1858. Keep in
mind that while Tokyo is still a bustling city, Edo at this
time was at a major turning point, being rated as one of the
largest cities in the world. The Ukiyo-e depictions of life during the Edo period are a
treasure, having been on display in many of the world’s
finest museums to include the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Interestingly, Hiroshige actually worked as a
firefighter until the age of 31.
At that time, he added the study of printmaking to
his already busy schedule, working hard under the master,
Utagawa Toyohiro. Very quickly, Hiroshige was able to develop a wonderful
ability of capturing the effects of places, people, and
work, especially 100 Famous Views of Edo, was ambitious,
showing off his unrivaled talent.
You would also notice that the pigmentation of this
series is natural. In
fact, four or possibly more advanced printing techniques for
the time were used to print the series on heavy, mulberry
bark paper. In
addition, when looking at the first edition set, you would
find mica blended in with the pigment, producing a
magnificent shaded surface with beautiful reflections and
only slight glittering that actually changes in the light.
Finally, Hiroshige used another unique technique, one
of gradation, or in Japan, called Bokashi.
In this case, color is wiped off a block very
carefully prior to rich texture and shading to scenery being
Prints from the set in our Gallery