Utagawa Hiroshige, whose birth name is Hiroshige Ando, born in 1797 in Edo and died on October 12, 1858 in Edo, is a Japanese designer, engraver and painter. It is distinguished by series of prints on Mount Fuji and Edo, evocatively drawing the landscapes and atmosphere of the city, taking up moments of daily life in the city before its transformation in the Meiji era. (1868-1912).
A prolific author, active between 1818 and 1858, he created a body of work made up of more than 5,400 prints.
He is with Hokusai, with whom he is often compared, one of the last very great names in ukiyo-e and, in particular, in landscape printing, which he will have taken to an unequaled peak before the decline xylography in Japan.
His most famous series, the Hundred Views of Edo, The Sixty-nine Stations of Kiso Kaidō and especially The Fifty-three Stations of Tōkaidō, rival in notoriety Hokusai's famous series, The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji ( which is probably the most famous Japanese print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa).
However, Hiroshige's style is quite different from Hokusai's.
Hiroshige makes himself the humble interpreter of nature, who, using the crude means of wood engraving, knows how to express as through "an enchanted window" the delicate transparencies of the atmosphere over the seasons, in landscapes where man is always present. The composition of his works is striking, characterized by a subtle mastery of bold colors – with a dominance of green and blue. His sense of the foreground will be taken up later by Degas, and we will find it in photography.
Shortly after the forced reopening of Japan to exchanges with the West, it was mainly through the work of Hiroshige that around 1870 the world discovered the astonishing originality of the graphic arts in this country. Japonism will have a determining influence on the impressionist painters and then on Art Nouveau.