Ando Utagawa Hiroshige
(Japanese, 1797 Edo–1858)
Mt. Fuji from Yasuda Shimoza, from
Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji
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
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.