Hiroshige, Ukiyo-e, images of the Floating World

MishimaBrumeduMatin1831Hiroshige, view of Mishima from “53 Stations on the Tokaido” (1847-1852)

Photographs taken form the exhibition at the Musée Guimet, September 2013.

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Literally meaning “pictures of the floating world”, ukiyo-e refers to the famous Japanese woodblock print genre that originated in the 17th century and is practically synonymous with the Western world’s visual characterization of Japan. Because they could be mass produced, ukiyo-e works were often used as designs for fans, New Year’s greeting cards, single prints, and book illustrations, and traditionally they depicted city life, entertainment, beautiful women, kabuki actors, and landscapes. The influence of ukiyo-e in Europe and the USA, often referred to as Japonisme, can be seen in everything from impressionist painting to today’s manga and anime illustration

Hiroshige (1797-1858) was one of the last great artists in the ukiyo-e tradition. Though he captured a variety of subjects, his greatest talent was in creating landscapes of his native Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and his final masterpiece was a series known as “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo” (1856-1858).

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