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Hiroshige: Landscape woodcut prints

03.06.2008 to 05.10.2008

This exhibition is dedicated to the Japanese master woodcut printmaker, Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), who is known in particular for his atmospheric landscape pictures. While the landscape traditionally belonged to one of the most important genres in painting, in woodcut printing it only became a subject in its own right in the 19th century, as the increase in travel also brought with it an increase in the interest in landscape prints.

The main thrust of the exhibition here is on those woodcuts depicting 'famous views' (meisho). Places referred to as such had for centuries already been described in Japanese literature and been duly depicted in the visual fine arts. Prints originating from the 1830s series, 'Eight Views of Omi' and 'The Fifty-Three Stations of the East Sea Road' (Tōkaidō) are displayed alongside one another.

Largely set in the context of the popular culture of the capital Edo (present day Tokyo), the term 'meisho' begins to take on quite a different meaning. No longer were only classical 'places of renown' depicted, but much more those that were of particular importance in the day-to-day lives of the city's inhabitants. Two prints from Hiroshige's extensive last series 'One Hundred Famous Views of Edo,' which first appeared in the years 1856 and 1858 perfectly illustrate this shift in style.