Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Brief History of Ando Hiroshige

          Often considered the last of the great Edo period (1603-1868) landscape print designers, Ando Hiroshige, also known as Utagawa Hiroshige, lived a relatively quiet life. He was the son of Ando Genemon a fire warden in Edo castle. Ando Hiroshige exhibited talent in art and was often seen practicing around the castle. At the tender age of 12, Hiroshige lost both of his parents and subsequently accepted the hereditary title of fire warden. Soon after, he applied for an apprenticeship at the Toyokuni School and Toyohiro School. The founders of both schools were students of the Utagawa Toyoharu. Hiroshige was only accepted at the Toyohiro School. Hiroshige progressed very quickly in the Toyohiro school and was later accepted into the Utagawa fraternity where he adopted the name Utagawa Hiroshige.

          While studying at the Toyohiro School, Hiroshige studied Kano and Shijo painting styles and created traditional ukiyo-e prints such as prints of kabuki actors and bijinga (beautiful women). He practiced print design part-time until his son was old enough to accept his position as fire warden at the castle. After his sensei (Toyohiro) died in 1830, Hiroshige started creating landscape paintings. In 1832, Hiroshige was invited on a convoy to escort a gift (a group of horses) to the emperor in Kyoto from the Shogun in Edo (now Tokyo). It was during this trip that Hiroshige created his most popular prints Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road. In these prints, Hiroshige “combined a lyrical view of the countryside throughout the course of the four seasons with charmingly humorous depictions of the people and the local customs of each post stations” (Mason, 292). 

          Hiroshige wanted to bring something different to the world of ukiyo-e prints. Instead of focusing on traditional theme like bijinga (beautiful women) and kabuki actors, Hiroshige used landscape as his muse. Unlike Hokusai, Hiroshige presented nature in a simple, honest, straightforward, and emotional manner. He was able to harmoniously blend man with nature, creating prints that still capture audiences today (Strange, 130-134).

          It was only after his death in 1858 that Hiroshige received notoriety for his life’s work.  The forced opening of the Japanese borders by U.S. ships in 1853 and the signing of unequal treaties with foreign European nations caused the leaders of Edo to reevaluate Japanese foreign policy and led to the end of the Edo period in 1868.  Just as the Western countries were affecting Japan, Japan was also leaving its mark on the West most notably in the art world. Japanese culture inspired Western art so much that the term Japonisme was created in 1872 by Philippe Burty to describe the phenomenon. Hiroshige’s prints (along with many other designers) were distributed in Europe. Vincent Van Gogh was so inspired by Hiroshige’s prints, he made replicas of the scenes. Here is an example of one of Van Gogh replicas. On the left is Hiroshige’s print and on the right is Van Gogh’s painting of the print.
 

The Luther W. Brady Art Gallery is hosting an exhibit of first edition woodblock prints designed by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858). The exhibit, Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido was organized by the Reading Public Museum and will be at the Brady Art Gallery until December 2.

- Denisha Phipps, GW Graduate Student in Exhibition Design and Public Engagement

Bibliography:
Ives, Colta. “Japonisme.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/jpon/hd_jpon.htm (October 2004)
Department of Asian Art. “Woodblock Prints in the Ukiyo-e Style.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ukiy/hd_ukiy.htm (October 2003)
Strange, Edward. Hiroshige's Woodblock Prints: A Guide. New York: Dover Publications, 1983. Print.
Mason, Penelope E. History of Japanese Art. New York: Abrams, 1993. Print.



  

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Brief History of Ando Hiroshige

          Often considered the last of the great Edo period (1603-1868) landscape print designers, Ando Hiroshige, also known as Utagawa Hiroshige, lived a relatively quiet life. He was the son of Ando Genemon a fire warden in Edo castle. Ando Hiroshige exhibited talent in art and was often seen practicing around the castle. At the tender age of 12, Hiroshige lost both of his parents and subsequently accepted the hereditary title of fire warden. Soon after, he applied for an apprenticeship at the Toyokuni School and Toyohiro School. The founders of both schools were students of the Utagawa Toyoharu. Hiroshige was only accepted at the Toyohiro School. Hiroshige progressed very quickly in the Toyohiro school and was later accepted into the Utagawa fraternity where he adopted the name Utagawa Hiroshige.

          While studying at the Toyohiro School, Hiroshige studied Kano and Shijo painting styles and created traditional ukiyo-e prints such as prints of kabuki actors and bijinga (beautiful women). He practiced print design part-time until his son was old enough to accept his position as fire warden at the castle. After his sensei (Toyohiro) died in 1830, Hiroshige started creating landscape paintings. In 1832, Hiroshige was invited on a convoy to escort a gift (a group of horses) to the emperor in Kyoto from the Shogun in Edo (now Tokyo). It was during this trip that Hiroshige created his most popular prints Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road. In these prints, Hiroshige “combined a lyrical view of the countryside throughout the course of the four seasons with charmingly humorous depictions of the people and the local customs of each post stations” (Mason, 292). 

          Hiroshige wanted to bring something different to the world of ukiyo-e prints. Instead of focusing on traditional theme like bijinga (beautiful women) and kabuki actors, Hiroshige used landscape as his muse. Unlike Hokusai, Hiroshige presented nature in a simple, honest, straightforward, and emotional manner. He was able to harmoniously blend man with nature, creating prints that still capture audiences today (Strange, 130-134).

          It was only after his death in 1858 that Hiroshige received notoriety for his life’s work.  The forced opening of the Japanese borders by U.S. ships in 1853 and the signing of unequal treaties with foreign European nations caused the leaders of Edo to reevaluate Japanese foreign policy and led to the end of the Edo period in 1868.  Just as the Western countries were affecting Japan, Japan was also leaving its mark on the West most notably in the art world. Japanese culture inspired Western art so much that the term Japonisme was created in 1872 by Philippe Burty to describe the phenomenon. Hiroshige’s prints (along with many other designers) were distributed in Europe. Vincent Van Gogh was so inspired by Hiroshige’s prints, he made replicas of the scenes. Here is an example of one of Van Gogh replicas. On the left is Hiroshige’s print and on the right is Van Gogh’s painting of the print.
 

The Luther W. Brady Art Gallery is hosting an exhibit of first edition woodblock prints designed by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858). The exhibit, Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido was organized by the Reading Public Museum and will be at the Brady Art Gallery until December 2.

- Denisha Phipps, GW Graduate Student in Exhibition Design and Public Engagement

Bibliography:
Ives, Colta. “Japonisme.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/jpon/hd_jpon.htm (October 2004)
Department of Asian Art. “Woodblock Prints in the Ukiyo-e Style.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ukiy/hd_ukiy.htm (October 2003)
Strange, Edward. Hiroshige's Woodblock Prints: A Guide. New York: Dover Publications, 1983. Print.
Mason, Penelope E. History of Japanese Art. New York: Abrams, 1993. Print.



  

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Washington, District of Columbia, United States
"Found In Collection" or simply "FIC" is the way many museums classify the more mysterious items in their possession that have little or no documentation. Here at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of the George Washington University, we do keep extensive records of our collection, but some of the items we come across in academic buildings or our own storage can leave us wondering. This blog is an effort to showcase some of the more curious examples and their stories, and to provide a glimpse of the great variety of art pieces within the collection. To learn more about the Brady Gallery's history, recent exhibitions, or the George Washington University, take a look at the links below.

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