Utagawa Hiroshige

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Utagawa Hiroshige- Japanese Artist 


Utagawa Hiroshige was born in 1797 and the only son of Ando Genemon. He belonged to the family of samurais, which was considered the highest ranking in the Japanese society for being responsible for the post of fire wardens in the civil service. They loved Tokyo, which was the capital of the Japanese empire in 1603. When Hiroshige was three, his elder sister died; then later, his parents' death followed in 1809 when Hiroshige was 11; first, his mother and father after few months. Before his father died, he passed on his post to Hiroshige, which made him capable of supporting two people comfortably.

While working there, Hiroshige used to spend his time on art and other occupations. It is still unclear how he came to be in touch with art and why he chose it. According to stories, a friend of his father's who worked for the fire service introduced Hiroshige to paintings.

Early training

Hiroshige was inspired by the popular artist Toyokuni but failed when he tried to apply for his school. In later 1811 he was accepted as a pupil of Toyohiro. Hiroshige followed his Master and started making woodblock images of beautiful women, Kabuki figures, and illustrations of poems. He supported his passion for art through his work as a fire warden. 

Hiroshige got married to the daughter of a fireman in 1821, and he named their son Nakajiro. He continued working on creating paintings until 1829 and then worked on the landscape and became very popular. In 1831 Hiroshige, he published his famous views of the Eastern capital.

Hiroshige gave his position to his son in 1832 and took early retirement from the civil service. But it was clear that he didn't give up his post for painting. In the same year, he joined an official procession connecting the roads of Edo with Kyoto. This journey took ten to sixteen days and passed numerous temples.

Mature period

After discovering his talent and passion for landscape, Hiroshige worked continuously from 1834 to 1839; his best artworks were published in between these years. Hiroshige's financial condition during that period is unclear, but some theories say he lived like a middle-class man. But when the nation suffered from famine, his wife sold her accessories and clothing to support his work and provide necessary travel funds. Hiroshige's talent in landscape painting made him different from other artists. While other artists used the traditional approach of showing landscape, Hiroshige used his countryside vision which made his work unique and splendid. 

Last period

In 1847 Hiroshige got married for the second time, and this time it was the farmer's daughter, Oyasu. She was 15 years younger than him; they moved to another district together. Hiroshige borrowed money to make a new house and adopted a daughter. In this period, Hiroshige educated many students. Hiroshige decided to be a Buddhist monk in 1856. Even after becoming a monk, he continued his artwork. In 1858, Hiroshige fell ill due to cholera, which took more than 28000 lives in Japan. He was 62 years old when he died and was buried under a Buddhist Tim Asakusa. In his lifetime, Hiroshige produced 5000 designs.


Hiroshige was very popular for his artwork and very influential in Europe than in Japan. Hiroshige had extraordinary skills in using colours and was known for it, especially for using vantage points and striking colours. Hiroshige painted the idea of a "floating world". His work played a huge part in shaping the Japonism movement. Hiroshige's landscapes also shaped the development of contemporary manga, and his artworks are a gift for the world.