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Ando Hiroshige is one of the most popular Japanese artists in history.  From humble beginnings, Ando Hiroshige went from being a fire warden to being considered perhaps the greatest painter and printmaker of the nineteenth century.  Hiroshige worked in the medium of "ukiyo-e, which is Japanese for making prints that were widely distributed and his more than 5,400 works are still popular today.  Because he worked with woodblock printing, quite a number of his original works still circulate in the art world.  However, Hiroshige's legacy has also been preserved with any number of modern reprintings of his most famous pieces. 

Hiroshige was born in 1797 with the name Ando Tokutaro.  His father was a fire warden, and young Ando at first followed him into this trade but there were early signs that Ando was destined for a career in art.  For instance, a drawing or painting he did at age 10 is said to have aroused considerable interest from teachers and artists nearby.  When both his parents died while he was just 12, young Ando decided to pursue a career in art.  In 1811, he enrolled as an apprentice with the famous Utagawa painting school, working with ukiyo-e master Toyohiro Utagawa.  He graduated in 1812, and as was traditional, took the name of his master, christening himself Utagawa Hiroshige. 

Hiroshige's career has three defining periods.  The first period, from 1812 to about 1830, saw Hiroshige working hard on book illustrations, as well as producing prints of actors and young women.  It was during the second period, which lasted until about 1845, that Hiroshige became popular for his landscapes and portrayals of everyday life in Japan.  It is widely agreed by experts that Hiroshige put great care and attention into his works during this part of his career, which cannot be said of the years marking the third period.  In fact, works from this era are said to be rushed and less precise, although they were still popular with contemporary art buyers.  Hiroshige died in 1858 of cholera, and his death more or less coincided with the end of the woodblock printing era. 

Hiroshige's most famous series of prints was Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido, which he produced in 1833 and 1834.  These prints depicted scenes at the way stations on the famous Tokaido highway between Edo and Kyoto.  Because print making was like a serial story in a magazine (with the audience wanting to see the culmination of the "story"), most of Hiroshige's works can be categorized as part of one series or another, with the Tokaido highway being one of his favorite subjects.  Although Hiroshige's prints were beloved and were commercially successful, he was not seen as a great cultural icon during his lifetime.  His value as an artist and as an observer of everyday events only became apparent later on, long after the fire warden whose prints enthralled a nation had died. Click here to visit our Gallery of Hiroshige Ando prints.


 

Geishas Kabuki Theatre
Sumo Wrestling The Castles of Japan
 
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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