Hiroshige Ando, Yushima Tenjin Shrine, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Artist: Hiroshige Ando (1797-1858)
Title: Hilltop View, Yushima Tenjin Shrine
Series title: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Publisher: Uoya Eikichi
Date: late 19th century (originally printed in 1856-1858)
Size: 36.8 x 24.9 cm
Original Japanese woodblock print.
Hiroshige I Utagawa was renowned as one of the most skilled landscape artists of his time. Following in the footsteps of his teacher, Toyohiro Utagawa, he embraced producing images of natural landscapes at a time when travel between provinces was becoming more common, and convenient. With this new ease of travel came the demand for guides to these foreign locales in the form of both writing and images.
The hill of Yushima Tenjin Shrine offers a great view of the Shinobazu Pond in Ueno. The red walls of the temple buildings are bright beneath the snow-covered roofs. Visitors to the shrine had two ways of reaching it, a steep one called 'men's steps' and a less steep one called 'women's steps'. The two figures coming into the picture bottom right have their heads wrapped in thick scarves while another one is captured right in front of the torii gate with an umbrella.
|Print Format||Oban (Vertical)|
|Artist Name||Hiroshige I Utagawa (Hiroshige Ando)|
|Title||Hilltop View, Yushima Tenjin Shrine|
|Dimensions||36.8 x 24.9 cm|
|Condition Report||No original margin, faded, light soiling.|
|Series||One Hundred Famous Views of Edo|
Hiroshige I Utagawa (Hiroshige Ando)
Hiroshige I Utagawa was a woodblock print artist best known for his landscape prints and considered as one of the greatest Japanese artists in ukiyo-e history to have influenced Western impressionists, such as Van Gogh and Claude Monet. Born in Edo (today’s Tokyo), he started sketching from an early age and was later accepted into Toyokuni I Utagawa’s highly successful studio mostly under the guidance of Toyohiro Utagawa (1773-1828), from whom he would adopt his art name. He also took nanga painting lessons that had a great influence on his later work.
In 1831 his first landscape series ‘Famous Places of The Eastern Capital’ (Toto Meisho) was published and the following year Hiroshige passed on his family responsibilities to his relatives to dedicate his entire energy to printmaking. In 1832, it is said that Hiroshige was appointed by Bakufu, the feudal government of Japan, to accompany an official procession from Edo to Kyoto along the Tokaido road. The artist made many sketches during this journey, resulting in the production of his most acclaimed series ‘Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road’, although some of the designs are based on older available images. To be noted that it was rare for an artist (and regular people in general) to be able to travel and sketch landscapes from life during the Edo period, which makes some scholars believe that Hiroshige depicted most scenes entirely from his imagination.
The ten-year period of 1833-1843 is thought to have been Hiroshige’s most developed and innovative time as an artist. A lot of series that were produced during this time, such as ‘Sixty-nine Stations of Kisokaido Road’, ‘Eight Views of Omi’ and ‘Famous Places of Kyoto’, would lead to the peak of his career when he produced the ‘Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces’, ‘Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji’ and his last great series, ‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’. In addition to his landscape prints, Hiroshige also designed kacho-ga (pictures of birds and flowers), bijinga (pictures of beautiful women), yakusha-e (pictures of actors), warriors and historical subjects.
Hiroshige’s prints are particularly sought for their perspective and excellent bokashi (colour gradation). Careful overprinting and shading of colours bring to life many natural elements such as the sky or water, rocks and mountains. An appreciation for wood pattern can also be noted in Hiroshige’s prints, with certain designs showing a unique texture and an organic quality deeply cherished by collectors. As many other reputable artists, he also had many students, some of the most famous being Hiroshige II Utagawa and Hirokage Utagawa.