Utagawa Hiroshige (1797 - October 12, 1858) was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist, and one of the last great artists in that tradition. He was also referred to as Ando Hiroshige (an irregular combination of family name and art name) and by the art name of Ichiyusai Hiroshige.
Hiroshige was born in 1797 and named "Ando Tokutaro" in the Yayosu barracks, just east of Edo Castle in the Yaesu area of Edo (present-day Tokyo). His father was Ando Gen'emon, a hereditary retainer (of the doshin rank) of the shogun. An official within the fire-fighting organization whose duty was to protect Edo Castle from fire, Gen'emon and his family, along with 30 other samurai, lived in one of the 10 barracks, although their salary of 60 koku marked them as a minor family, it was a stable position, and a very easy one - Professor Seiichiro Takahashi characterizes a fireman's duties as largely consisting of revelry. The 30 samurai officials of a barracks, including Gen'emon, oversaw the efforts of the 300 lower-class workers who also lived within the barracks. A few scraps of evidence indicate he was tutored by another fireman who taught him in the Chinese-influenced Kano school of painting.
His natural inclination toward drawing marked him for an artistic life: as a child, he had played with miniature landscapes, and had already produced an impressive painting in 1806 of a procession of delegates to the Shogun from the Ryukyu Islands, which was remarkably accomplished given his young age. He began by being taught the Kano school's style by his friend, Okajima Rinsai. These studies (such as a study of perspective in the Dutch images imported) prepared him for an apprenticeship. He first attempted to enter the studio of the extremely successful Utagawa Toyokuni but was rejected. Thus, he eventually embarked on an apprenticeship with the noted Utagawa Toyohiro instead of with Toyokuni. He was rejected again on his first attempt to enter Toyohiro's studio, but later accepted at the age of 15 in 1811. Toyohiro bestowed upon him the name "Utagawa" after only a year (instead of the usual period of two or three years). Hiroshige later took his master's name, becoming "Ichiyusai Hiroshige."
In 1839, Hiroshige's first wife, a woman from the Okabe family, died. Hiroshige re-married to O-yasu, daughter of a farmer named Kaemon. Hiroshige lived in the barracks until the age of 43. Gen'emon and his wife died in 1809, when Hiroshige was 12 years old, just a few months after his father had passed the position on to him. Although his duties as a fire-fighter were light, he never shirked these responsibilities, even after he entered training in Utagawa Toyohiro's studio. He eventually turned his firefighter position over to his brother, Tetsuzo, in 1823, who in turn passed on the duty to Hiroshige's son in 1832.
Hiroshige II was a young print artist, Chinpei Suzuki, who married Hiroshige's daughter, Otatsu. He was given the artist name of "Shigenobu". Hiroshige intended to make Shigenobu his heir in all matters, and Shigenobu adopted the name "Hiroshige" after his master's death in 1858, and thus today is known as a href="https://www.1st-art-gallery.com/Hiroshige-II-(ichiusai-Shigenobu)/Hiroshige-II-(ichiusai-Shigenobu)-oil-paintings.html">Hiroshige II. However, the marriage to Otatsu was troubled and in 1865 they separated. Otatsu was remarried to another former pupil of Hiroshige, Shigemasa, who appropriated the name of the lineage and today is known as Hiroshige III. Both Hiroshige II and Hiroshige III worked in a distinctive style based on that of Hiroshige, but neither achieved the level of success and recognition accorded to their master. Other students of Hiroshige I include Utagawa Shigemaru, Utagawa Shigekiyo, and Utagawa Hirokage.
In 1856, Hiroshige "retired from the world," becoming a Buddhist monk, this was the year he began his One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. He died aged 62 during the great Edo cholera epidemic of 1858 (whether the epidemic killed him is unknown) and was buried in a Zen Buddhist temple in Asakusa.
Hiroshige largely confined himself in his early work to common ukiyo-e themes such as women and actors yakusha-e). Then, after the death of Toyohiro, Hiroshige made a dramatic turnabout, with the 1831 landscape series Famous Views of the Eastern Capital (Toto Meisho) which was critically acclaimed for its composition and colors. This set is generally distinguished from Hiroshige's many print sets depicting Edo by referring to it as Ichiyusai Gakki, a title derived from the fact that he signed it as Ichiyusai Hiroshige. With The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido (1833-1834), his success was assured. These designs were drawn from Hiroshige's actual travels of the full distance of 490 kilometers (300 miles). They included details of date, location, and anecdotes of his fellow travelers, and were immensely popular. In fact, this series was so popular that he reissued it in three versions, one of which was made jointly with Kunisada. Hiroshige went on to produce more than 2000 different prints of Edo and post stations Tokaido, as well as series such as The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaido (1834-1842) and Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (1852-1858). Of his estimated total of 5000 designs, these landscapes comprised the largest proportion of any genre.
He dominated landscapes printmaking with his unique brand of intimate, almost small-scale works compared against the older traditions of landscapes painting descended from Chinese landscapes painters such as Sesshu. The travel prints generally depict travelers along famous routes experiencing the special attractions of various stops along the way. They travel in the rain, in snow, and during all of the seasons. In 1856, working with the publisher Uoya Eikichi, he created a series of luxury edition prints, made with the finest printing techniques including true gradation of color, the addition of mica to lend a unique iridescent effect, embossing, fabric printing, blind printing, and the use of glue printing (wherein ink is mixed with glue for a glittery effect).
One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (issued serially between 1856 and 1859) was immensely popular. The set was published posthumously and some prints had not been completed - he had created over 100 on his own, but two were added by Hiroshige II after his death.