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In: Aziatische Kunst
In: Aziatische Kunst
In: Aziatische Kunst
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Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) designed a series of 70 landscapes depicting the provinces of Japan between 1854 and 1856. It was the first of a number of sets from the highly productive years of his later life. The designs comprising Famous places in the 60-odd provinces (Rokuju yoshu meisho zue) are taken from all corners of Japan. Designs published before this series had already depicted the famous routes between Edo and Kyoto, the Tokaido and the Kisokaido, and various well known locations such as the famous waterfalls, Lake Omi and the Jewel Rivers, but a series on such a grand scale devoted to the provincies was a novelty. It evidently met with critical acclaim as the publishers Koshimuraya Heisuke issued several editions.
In this study, the author Marije Jansen briefly discusses Hiroshige's life and the formal aspects of this series. Jansen takes as her point of departure the set in possession of the German collector Gerhard Pulverer, which is generally acknowledged to be a superb example of a first edition, and compares this series to a number of other sets in public and private collections. The detectable printing variations in each design are carefully analysed, making this an indispensable tool for collectors.
Hiroshige Shaping the Image of Japan
is a comprehensive overview of Hiroshige's work as a woodblock print artist. Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) is one of the great masters in the history of Japanese printmaking and this publication coincides with the 150th anniversary of his death. Hiroshige has worked in virtually every genre of ukiyo-e or 'images of the floating world'. He designed prints of beautiful women and brave heroes, but achieved his greatest fame through his depictions of the Japanese landscape, showing famous places in different seasons and at various times of day. These landscape prints, with their bright colors and strong compositions, were not only popular in Japan, but also found favor with European artists at the turn of the 19th century.

The main body of this publication includes a general introduction, sketching the cultural and economic environment of the artist Hiroshige, the development of his oeuvre, and the rise of his his artistic reputation in Japan and the West. This is followed by a chronological presentation of 140 full-color prints, selected from public and private collections.

Biographical data are sparse and only very few details of his life help explain the nature of his output. However, by carefully piecing together the information which can be gleaned from the works themselves, and combining it with the current knowledge on print production methods, the authors present a picture of Hiroshige as an artist-cum-craftsman who efficiently produced for his publishers, creating in the process an image of Japan which endures until this day.