Exhibition picture

Hiroshige I and Hiroshige II

Welcome to a exhibition with two generations of landscape artists, Hiroshige I and Hiroshige II!

In the small gallery of the Japanese exhibition, Japan - tales of objects and images, we show woodcuts from the Edo period (1615-1868).

Hiroshige I is one of the most well-known woodblock print artists of the Edo period (1615-1868). He was born in 1797 in Edo, today’s Tokyo. As the son of a fireman, he spent a few early years within firefighting, before studying under the woodblock print master Utagawa Toyohiro. Under the artist name Utagawa Hiroshige he became one of the great masters, particularly regarded for his landscape pictures.

Hiroshige II was his foremost pupil. He was born in 1829 as Chinpei Suzuki, like his master to a fireman. Of the few pupils that Utagawa Hiroshige had, Suzuki seems to have stood him closest. He adopted the artist name Shigenobu Hiroshige.

In woodblock printmaking it was common for artists to produce series of pictures within a certain theme. Hiroshige I was among the greatest creators of landscape series. One very popular such was “One hundred famous views of Edo”. Hiroshige II produced series of the same variety, such as “Scenes of famous places along the Tokaido road”. A selection from these series is exhibited here.

Whereas Hiroshige I saw enormous success at a time when the landscape genre was relatively new, his pupil had a more stumbling career. Hiroshige II only got a moderate public reception and spent his last years in Yokohama in poverty.

Some historians and collectors have seen the pupil as an imitator of his master, who didn’t refine his originality. However, certain stylistic differences between them can be identified. Hiroshige II is characterized by stricter compositions and a different colour palette for instance. He, too, clearly had a creative voice of his own.

The exhibited pictures give both an insight into the everyday life of urban Japanese society and showcase two outstanding artistries, where landscape art has been interpreted from one generation to another.

Most welcome to the gallery!

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