Hiroshige. A Journey into the Woodblock Print

Europe – Far East Gallery
28.04.2024 - 03.11.2024

Opening: 28.04.2024, 12.00

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), one of the most celebrated Japanese ukiyo-e masters, was born, worked, and died in Edo (today’s Tokyo). He came from a samurai family; however, as early as ca. 1823, he gave up being a member of the samurai class. He studied under the eminent master Toyohiro of the Utagawa School and also drew on other Japanese art schools, in addition to Western painting.  

He initially created prints depicting beautiful women, actors and theatrical scenes. In the 1830s, he took up a new subject, pictures of flowers and birds, which were affectionate representations of nature. He did not, however, achieve spectacular artistic success until the publication of The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō (1833–1834), a masterpiece of landscape. 

Working with various publishers, Hiroshige created a number of landscape series depicting the famous highways connecting Edo and Kyoto – the Tōkaidō and the Kisokaidō –  as well as other famous places in Japan, notably the views of Edo. The series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo comes through as an artistic chronicle of the city, showing current events – festivals and celebrations, openings of new shops, and current fashions – through which we see bridges and temples, places to be at or explore. Hiroshige guides Edo residents and visitors around these fascinating places. The artist’s original framing of images and extraordinary compositional ingenuity make the series one of the most important works in the world’s art, which exerted a decisive influence on Western visual arts. Hiroshige remained true to what he loved, despite the restrictions imposed by the laws of the time, which tended to limit artistic expression. 

Hiroshige left behind some 5,800 works – primarily colour woodblock prints and 120 picture books. His work, which had such a decisive influence on European art of the 19th and 20th centuries, continues to inspire and delight people all over the world.
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