Utagawa Hiroshige was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist, considered the last great master of that tradition. Hiroshige produced over 8,000 woodblock works.
The wood block is carefully prepared as a wood-carved relief pattern, which means the areas to show white are cut away with a knife, chisel, or sandpaper leaving the characters or image to show in black at the original surface level. The block was cut along the grain of the wood. It is necessary only to ink the block and bring it into firm and even contact with the paper or cloth to achieve an acceptable print. The content would of course print in reverse or mirror-image, a further complication when text was involved.
For colour printing, multiple blocks are used, each for one colour, although overprinting two colours may produce further colours on the print. The paper is normally keyed to a frame around the woodblocks.
Hiroshige is best known for his horizontal and vertical format landscape series. Subtle use of color was essential in Hiroshige's prints, often printed with multiple impressions in the same area, and with extensive use of bokashi (color gradation), both of which were rather labor-intensive techniques. He created an increasing number of bird and flower prints.
Western European artists, such as Manet and Monet, collected and closely studied Hiroshige's compositions. Vincent van Gogh even went so far as to paint copies of two of Hiroshige's prints.
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120 Hiroshige Woodblock Prints - high resolution.jpg format