This is the concluding part to my series on Japanese Woodblock prints or Ukiyo-E drawings. In concluding my exploration of the three great masters of the Edo Period I will be concentrating on Utagawa (Ando) Hiroshige.
Michael Robinson starts his commentary with this comment on Hiroshige.
” Arguably the last great master of Ukiyo-E Utagawa Hiroshige is best known for his evocative landscapes”. .
” Hiroshige’s images are more striking in colour and atmosphere than Hokusai’s version of the stations made 30 years earlier”..
Robinson shows how Hiroshige used realist techniques and romantic visions in his depictions of the Landscape.
” What Hiroshige managed to achieve in these landscapes was a unique blend of Realism and Romanticism”. .
” At the time he (Hiroshige) was producing his first landscape series Hiroshige was also drawn to the flora and Fauna of his own Country as a motif”. .
Hiroshige was well known for creating many thousands of images argues Robinson.
” Hiroshige was very prolific creating well in excess of 5.000 images”. .
Robinson observes that Hiroshige’s art had a great influence on western artists like Monet and Van Gogh.
” Japanese woodblock prints were also know to European artists. It was the impressionists such as Claude Monet and the Post impressionist such as Vincent Van Gogh who most eagerly sought out Japanese prints”. .
Joan Stanley Baker in her book on Japanese art also gives pride of place to Hiroshige.
” Ando Hiroshige perfected a new genre of travelogue prints with the numerous series such as the 53 stages of Tokaido Highway”. .
Adele Schlomb in the Taschen book devoted to Hiroshige also comments on the various series of prints that Hiroshige produced in the Travelogue series.
” With the appearance of Hokusai’s 36 views of Mount Fuji in 1830 and Hiroshige’s 53 stations of the Tokaido the landscape conquered the Japanese Ukiyo-E woodblock print more or less“. .
Schlomb continues to explain the use of the word Ukiyo-E.
” The term Ukiyo-E means literally pictures of the floating transitory world”. .
” In the works of Hokusai and Hiroshige who put their unmistakeable personal stamp on the Landscape depictions of the 19th century it was suddenly the figures that had to find their place in the views of nature”. .
Schlomb argues that it was feelings and moods that dominated Hiroshige’s work.
” Hiroshige expressed feelings and moods which struck a chord with the mass of the people”. .
Schlomb gives a background of a peaceful interlude politically after a period of internecine wars between the two main Samurai clans that struggled for power.
” After a century and half of bloody power struggles between the feudal Lords In 1695 a centralisation of power was finally achieved by (Tokugawa Ieyasu) the founder of the Military regime that bears his name and was to last for 250 years”. .
” Hiroshige (He liked transitional Chinese birds eye perspective) of two dimensional depiction in the Japanese style of painting”. .
Schlomb now comes on to discuss the 53 Stations of Tokaido.
” The 53 stations of Tokaido. This was the series that laid the foundations for Hiroshige’s fame. It was reprinted in countless editions”..
” The series also contains numerous broad panoramas and ends with the evening view of the Sanjo-Okasi bridge over the Kano river in Kyoto”. .
Schlomb concludes her study of Hiroshige with reflections about the originality of Hiroshige in his depictions of the Landscape of Japan.
” Hiroshige’s 100 famous views of Edo have become famous in the West not least through the copies made by Vincent Van Gogh. In 1887 of the Okasi Bridge in Spring rain”. .
” In summary one may conclude that Hiroshige’s work in the 1830’s was characterised by great originality”. .
This concludes my survey of the three great Edo artists in Japan concluding with Utagawa (Ando) Hiroshige. In future articles I will be returning to Western art and considering the impact of French impressionism of the 18th and 19th centuries.
- JAPANESE WOODBLOCKS MICHAEL ROBINSON. PG.20
- JAPANESE ART JOAN STANLEY BAKER.PG.192
- HIROSHIGE. ADELE SCHLOMB.TASCHEN.PG.7