Artist Spotlight: Utagawa Hiroshige

A Ukiyo-e Legend

Born in 1797 in Japan during the Edo period, Utagawa Hiroshige was, and remains to this day, one of the most influential artists in history. He is best known for his innovations in ukiyo-e. This is a form of art created by artists who applied their sophisticated knowledge of classical Chinese painting to the development of a new, distinctly Japanese style. Unlike his contemporaries, who typically used the ukiyo-e style to depict beautiful women and scenes from folk tales, Hiroshige focused on the natural world as the subject of his works. Hiroshige’s prints and paintings were so influential that many modern art scholars consider his death in 1858 to be the beginning of the decline of the ukiyo-e genre.

One of Hiroshige’s most famous works, Meguro Drum Bridge and Sunset Hill (sometimes shortened to “The Drum Bridge”) is the 111th piece in the “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo” series. This series contains 119 ukiyo-e prints in total. “The Drum Bridge” depicts a calm winter scene that evokes feelings of quiet isolation, and shows off Hiroshige’s particular skill at rendering the accumulation of snow on the tree branches.

Framed and unframed prints of “The Drum Bridge”, along with several other famous Hiroshige pieces, are available on Art & Canvas.

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