Utagawa Hiroshige, born as Andō Tokutarō in 1797, was a Japanese artist known as the last great master in Japanese traditional woodblock printing. He was born into a samurai family and was the only son of Andō Gen’emon. His family were fire wardens, a duty that Hiroshige had to take over at the age of 12 after the death of his parents. Despite the tragedy, he began painting under the tutelage of Toyohiro of the Utagawa school.

Hiroshige’s work had a significant cultural impact. He is most remembered for his various landscape series with his poetic lines and muted colors. His prints memorialized everyday life in the late Edo period, presenting a vision of Japan where the changing of the seasons and associated festivities were central. This vision, heightened by Hiroshige’s lush colors and unconventional approach to composition, had widespread appeal within Japan and abroad. His landscapes, particularly those of his series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, had the most impact. Hiroshige interpreted famous sites through the lens of everyday experience, giving his prints a mass appeal and allowing the Japanese public to feel emotionally involved with their native landscape. His work, alongside that of Katsushika Hokusai, popularized Japanese art and aesthetics in Europe. Hiroshige’s bright colors and attention to the passing of time had a strong impact on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters, while his bold lines representing trees and flowers had a strong influence on Art Nouveau design.