Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) was a low-ranking samurai whose family held a hereditary position in the Edo fire brigade and yet he became the greatest landscape Japanese woodblock artist. He capitalized on the tradition of ``meisho``, which were pictures of famous places with seasonal and poetic associations that appealed to most Japanese. While Hiroshige was very accurate in his topographical detail he added a distinctive freshness by his unusual view points, striking colours and seasonal allusions all of which lifted him above the rest of his contemporaries even, in my view, above his famous contemporary Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Hiroshige travelled extensively sketching and observing the landscapes within Japan from which travels came many of his series of prints, ``The Fifty-three Stages of the Tokaido`` and the ``One Hundred Famous views of Edo`` being two of the most popular.
The print shown on the Woodblock Prints page is a posthumous portrait of Hiroshige by Kunisada. Hiroshige`s farewell poem on the print reads:
Upon the eastern road
My brush i`ve left behind
Now on a journey through the skies
I go to see the famous places
In the Western Paradise
In a way all my work is founded on Japanese art - Vincent Van Gogh