The Gallery of UKIYO-E --Artists' Profiles-- The Adachi Institute of Woodcut Print

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Hiroshige was born in 1797, the time when Ukiyo-e was at the highest of its popularity. The artist was a prodigious painter as a child and at the age of fifteen, through the introduction of a certain book dealer, he became a pupil of Utagawa Toyohiro. Rather than following his teacher's style, Hiroshige chose to make yakusya-e (portraits of Kabuki actors), musha-e (likenesses of mighty warriors) and bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women).

Following the death of his teacher in 1828 Hiroshige started to compose landscape pictures. The "Fifty-three Stations on the Tokaido Highway" is a series published from 1833, when Hiroshige was 37, to the following year. This was the series which brought Hiroshige to fame as an established landscape artist.

Hiroshige's work is characterized by its realism and poetic atmosphere, and his best landscapes have the spontaneity of sketches from nature and are a reflection of an intensely personal experience by the artist. His carrer was long and he produced more than 8000 prints, the majority of which are, unfortunately, poor designs or poor impressions. In his later life he designed vertically long landscape compositions, a challenging task which revealed his undaunted spirit as an artist defying his age.