Cherished Vistas and Famous Places: Hiroshige and the Japanese Landscape
Cherished Vistas and Famous Places: Hiroshige and the Japanese Landscape is an exhibition of 75 woodblock prints by the Japanese master Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858). The most popular print artist of his day, Hiroshige was best known for his landscape series celebrating the beauty of nineteenth-century Japan. His most famous series, Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido, forms the basis of this exhibition.
The source of power in Japan during Hiroshige's time resided in the city of Edo, which was the residence of the Shogun and the seat of government, while the capital and home of the emperor was in Kyoto. A number of highways were built by the government to facilitate administration, and there was heavy traffic on the roads between Kyoto and Edo. The well-traveled Tokaido, or "Eastern Sea Route," had checkpoints, or "stations," at fifty-three locations along the way. Hiroshige's first trip over the Tokaido came in the summer of 1832, when he accompanied an official mission from Edo to the imperial court. In the series of fifty-five prints that he made upon his return to Edo, there was a picture for each station, plus one for each of the terminals. His series was an immediate and tremendous success, and Hiroshige was deluged with orders from other publishers for further work in the same theme. He varied the subjects and formats as much as possible, producing versions that focused on landscape and others that concentrated on people. Hiroshige produced at least thirty-six different series about the Tokaido, totaling over 900 images, and became Japan's paramount exponent of the landscape print.