Ukiyo-e Woodcut Prints by Utagawa Hiroshige


Even though his creative influence will soon spread to other nations, the Japanese artist who went by the name Toshibata Shibata was already well-known throughout the whole of his own country of Japan. Even though he was very talented in a wide variety of fields, the finest work he ever produced was as a landscape photographer. In the 17th and 18th centuries, woodblock prints were all the rage; nevertheless, by the beginning of the 19th century, photography had established itself as the new form of art for many people.

Hiroshige was a great Japanese artist and master who committed his life to the production of beautiful paintings as well as teaching pupils how to paint in the Ukiyo-e style. He is known as “The Father of Ukiyo-e.” Hiroshige is known for producing a large number of remarkable works throughout the course of his career. His art was rich in detail, vibrant in colour, and invigorating. In point of fact, despite the fact that a great number of Japanese painters were considered to be among the greatest, Hiroshige’s work was among the most astonishing of its time.

Hiroshige 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road

Shibata had a long and fruitful career as a landscape photographer, during which he captured a wide variety of vistas. However, his work from 1983 to 1986 was distinctive, which contributed to his being a more well-known artist during that time period. During this brief time span of three years, Shibata photographed 53 petrol stations around the nation, although he did it exclusively during the midnight hours. Nevertheless, not just in Japan but also in the United States, these images were created.

Shibata had developed his own version of a series that was first published in the 1830s and was called Hiroshige Ando’s 53 Stations of Tokaido. Shibata had used the original series as inspiration. The modern reimagining, which included shimmering lights and surrounding hotels decked up in neon décor, was a tremendous hit with the audience. In order to put his own spin on Shibata’s series, he decided to centre his work on gas stations and motels that were either out of the way or relatively obscure.

Even while taking pictures of gas stations at night may seem odd or even dull, the fact of the matter is that Shibata’s ability to concentrate on detail makes each work quite engaging and thrilling. Because of this incredible talent, the series shot to the top of the ratings. It is interesting to note that all of the images were shot on black and white film, nearly producing a vision of the past juxtaposed with the present. Those viewers who grasped the central idea of the series were the ones who really enjoyed the wonderful harmony that prevailed throughout.

Hiroshige 69 Stations of the Tokaido Road

“69 Stations of Kisokaido” was the name of one of the works that Hiroshige produced in this vein. Hiroshige’s father was a fireman who, along with 32 other men, was tasked with the job of preventing a fire from breaking out in the Edo Castle. Hiroshige was once known as Ando Tokutaro. He was initially born in Edo, which is now known as Tokyo, but he had already lost both of his parents by the age of 12. Despite this, he was recognised as having significant aptitude in painting at a very early age, and in 1811, when he was only 14 years old, he was admitted into the renowned Utagawa School.

While he was learning under the teacher Toyohiro Utagawa, he was soon given permission to alter his surname to Utagawa, which ultimately led to his being given the name Utagawa Hiroshige. However, if you were to undertake study on this Japanese artist or attempt to obtain copies of his work, you would probably need to seek under the name of Hiroshige Ando as well. This is because the artist was also known as Ando Hiroshige. Keep in mind that the majority of his early work consisted of illustrated books, with the publication of his first book being in the year 1818. Hiroshige painted in the classic Japanese style, which included kabuki performers, samurai, and of course, beautiful ladies. In spite of this, Hiroshige started to explore more styles about the year 1830.

Hiroshige started painting landscapes as his technique continued to improve, and he had an excellent eye for detail, so he was able to extend his subject matter. In spite of the fact that he achieved a great deal of success in this field, “Tokaido Gojusan-Tsungi No Uchi,” one of his most impressive works, was laboriously crafted by him over the course of a single year. This specific work also goes by the Americanized titles “From the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido” and “Fifty-Three Stages of the Tokaido.” Both of these names come from the original Japanese title. This seaside route that between Kyoto and Edo was painted in a manner that was nothing short of stunning, regardless of the name that was given to it.

Another of his paintings, titled “Sixty-Nine Stops of Kisokaido,” depicts the turnpike-like stations where travellers were compelled to pay a toll. This image is also one of his most well-known. Each station was outfitted with a cabin for weary tourists as well as a restaurant where they could enjoy some straightforward fare. Even though he had considerable success in other creative genres, the work he did on the Tokaido stations was so stunning that it was the work he did on these that gained him a great deal of recognition and money. After Hiroshige saw the stability and satisfaction that came along with this line of work, he decided to concentrate his efforts in this sector of landscape for the next 20 years.

Tokaido Gojusan-Tsugi was comprised of 56 prints in chuban size, Tokaido was comprised of 55 prints in oban size, Gojusan-Tsugi Meisho-Zue was comprised of 55 prints in oban size, and So-Hitsu Gojusan-Tsugi was comprised of 55 vertical prints in oban size. These are just some of the other stunning works of art that Hiroshige created.

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