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Ando Utagawa Hiroshige
(Japanese, 1797 Edo–1858)
Mt. Fuji from Yasuda Shimoza, from
Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji
1858
Woodblock print on paper, 13 1/8" x 9"
Gift of an Anonymous Donor

Many of the best recognized and most admired woodcut prints by the celebrated landscapist Hiroshige were serial images depicting Japanese landmarks of great spiritual, social, economic, or aesthetic
significance. In urban Japan, prints of popular landmarks, Noh and Kabuki actors, courtesans, geishas, and the everyday activities of work and play were called Ukiyo-e -- "pictures of the floating world" or
" pictures of the passing scene." Hiroshige was born in Edo (now Tokyo) and like his father, labored as a fire warden, until the work of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) inspired him to become an artist. Hiroshige eventually entered the studio of Utagawa Toyohiro, and in 1812 took his teacher's name as a sign of graduation from apprenticeship, from then on signing his works Utagawa Hiroshige. Today Hiroshige and Hokusai are viewed as the greatest of all 19th-century Japanese printmakers. In 1832, Hiroshige traveled the famous Tokaido Road between Kyoto and Edo, creating sketches of its fifty-three stages, or post-towns, in different seasons and weather conditions. These prints won Hiroshige widespread acclaim, and he went on to create many other series of famous landmarks, including two versions of Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji. This print comes from the second version of the Mt. Fuji series, which was produced in the year of Hiroshige's death. It pictures the legendary volcanic peak of Mt. Fuji from a path which runs around the headland at Hota, and the Seven Ri (eighteen mile) Beach atYasuda Shimoza.

Unlike painting, drawing or other printing methods, woodblock printing required the use of flat, outlined shapes of bold color, which necessarily resulted in simplified and less detailed images. The look of Japanese prints had a profound effect on the work of post-impressionist artists when they began to appear in Europe after trade with Japan was opened up in the mid-1800s.

 
 
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