About us
Artists Utagawa Hiroshige
Utagawa Hiroshige Photo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Japanese Woodblock artist

Movement: Ukiyo-e Japanese Woodblock Prints

Born: 1797 - Edo (Now Tokyo), Japan

Died: 1858 - Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige Timeline

Summary

Utagawa Hiroshige is known as the last great master in Japanese traditional woodblock printing, imbuing the Japanese landscape with a lyricism that drew upon the fleeting nature of sensual pleasure. Hiroshige's prints memorialized everyday life in the late Edo period, in which travel and entertainment became more widely available to the middle-class, and presented a vision of the country in which the changing of the seasons, and the associated festivities, were central. This vision of Japan, heightened by Hiroshige's lush colors and unconventional approach to composition, had widespread appeal within Japan and abroad, with European artists adopting both his bright colors and his themes, transposing his interest in the ephemeral into other settings.

Key Ideas

While Hiroshige was very prolific and made prints on a range of subjects, it is his landscapes, particularly those of his series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, that had the most impact. Hiroshige interpreted famous sites through the lens of everyday experience, rather than literary, historical or imperial significance, giving his prints a mass appeal and allowing the Japanese public to feel emotionally involved with their native landscape.
Hiroshige captured the idea of a 'floating world,' from which the term ukiyo-e derived, through attention to the transient pleasures of secular life rather than, as had been the case prior to the Edo period, philosophical detachment rooted in Buddhism. The mood of his prints draws strongly from his focus on seasonal phenomena, fleeting weather conditions or festivities that marked the passing of time. Hiroshige's prints offered a lasting record of experiences that otherwise disappeared quickly.
Hiroshige's work, alongside that of Katsushika Hokusai, popularized Japanese art and aesthetics in Europe. Hiroshige's bright colors and attention to the passing of time had a strong impact on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters, while his bold lines representing trees and flowers had a strong influence on Art Nouveau design.
Utagawa Hiroshige Photo

Utagawa Hiroshige, born as Andō Tokutarō in 1797, was the only son of Andō Gen'emon. Hiroshige's name changed regularly as a child; he was also known as Jūemon, Tokubē, and Tetsuzō. The Andō family were Samurai, the highest ranking of the four Japanese castes, and consequently entitled to a hereditary post as fire wardens in the civil service. They lived in the Yayosu Riverbank area of Edo, now known as Tokyo, which had become capital of the Japanese empire in 1603. There is little documentation of Hiroshige's personal life or attitudes, but that which is known suggests his upbringing was distinguished by tragedy, beginning with the death of an elder sister when he was three; Hiroshige's mother died in 1809, when the artist was eleven, and his father died several months later, after his twelfth birthday.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Utagawa Hiroshige
Interactive chart with Utagawa Hiroshige's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Katsushika Hotsukai
Utagawa Kunisada

Personal Contacts

Okajima Rinsai
Utagawa Toyohiro

Movements

Kanō

Influences on Artist
Utagawa Hiroshige
Utagawa Hiroshige
Years Worked: 1811 - 1858
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
James WhistlerJames Whistler
Édouard ManetÉdouard Manet
Claude MonetClaude Monet

Personal Contacts

Hiroshige II
Hiroshige III

Movements

ImpressionismImpressionism
Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
Art NouveauArt Nouveau

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Sarah Ingram

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Anna Blair

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Sarah Ingram
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Anna Blair
Available from:
First published on 09 Apr 2019. Updated and modified regularly.
[Accessed ]