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Hiroshige

Updated on January 25, 2013

Hiroshige (1797-1858) was a Japanese painter and printmaker, who is best known for his landscapes in snow, rain, mist, and moonlight.

Hiroshige, whose surname was Ando but is sometimes given as Utagawa, was born in Edo (Tokyo), the son of a fireman. After a short period of training in the Kano school of art, he was apprenticed to Toyohiro Utagawa.

Hirashige's early work in the manner of the traditional Ukiya-e of Eizan and Eisen was undistinguished.

But in the autumn of 1832 he attained a style of his own while accompanying a mission of the Shogun bringing a gift of horses to the Emperor at Kyoto. The resultant Fifty-three Stages of the Tokaido (55 designs, one for each of the stations of that chief road between Tokyo and Kyoto and one for each of the termini) firmly established his reputation. His coolly observant eyes faithfully recorded the beauty of the Japanese landscape in a uniquely lyrical style that made his work a favorite not only of the Japanese but also of Westerners.

Among the approximately 5,000 other designs Hiroshige created before his retirement in 1856, the most important are Eight Views of Lake Biwa, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji,  and several additional series on the Tokaido. He died in Edo on October 12, 1858.

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