Since we’re in the midst of “The Holidays,” I thought I would show you all a nice snow scene (as if we haven’t had enough so far this month on the East Coast). Now, I’m the first to admit that I really love the early American snow scenes of artists like Thomas Birch (1779-1851), George Durrie (1820-1863), and Thomas Doughty (1793-1856), but my favorite all time snow scenes are those of Ando Hiroshige. His snow scenes really give the viewer the sense of feeling the cold air and the smelling the fresh air of a winter snow. Some art historians have called Hiroshige the “master of snow and rain,” because he produced so many prints with artistically challenging weather conditions. We can only marvel at the skill of the wood block carvers of his period.
Woodblock prints were known in the
Landscape painting was still the preferred medium of the nobility and upper classes. Woodblock artists had always produced copies of famous paintings even before the Edo Period, but by the late 18th century landscape prints were out of fashion. Hiroshige continued, in woodblock prints, the great tradition of Chinese and Japanese landscape. The gifted pupil of Toyohiro, he achieved his master’s status at the age of fifteen. Hiroshige produced prints of urban beauties (bijin) and Kabuki actors until 1823 when Hokusai’s landscape series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji was first published. This influenced Hiroshige to produce Famous Views of the Eastern Capital in 1826, and thereafter to focus on landscapes. His most famous series, of course, was the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido for which he produced the sketches starting in 1830.
This print comes from a series commissioned by the poet Taihaido, whose literati circle wanted their poems immortalized as prints depicting scenes of the subjects of their verses. The upper part of this scene bears the three or four line verse of the poem.
This is an awesome website about Hiroshige’s landscape series.