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Hiroshige (1797 - 1858)

Sea of Off Satta in Suruga Province

Series: 36 Views of Mt. Fuji
Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: 1858
Size (H x W): 14.5 x 9.5 (inches)
Publisher: Tsutaya Kichizo
Seals: Date and Publisher
Signature: Hiroshige ga
Condition: Good color, impression and state, light mat marking on margin area only



In this view of Mt. Fuji at Satta Pass, Hiroshige frames the dual nature of the sea through sloping diagonals. As the lines of the cresting wave, cliff side, and mountain slope intersect in the foreground, the eye is drawn into the chaos of crashing surf. In the distance, Hiroshige contrasts the power of the sea with a scene of tranquility: A sailboat floats upon the mirror-like surface. As the tendrils of the wave nearly brush the white sail, Hiroshige unites the composition, creating a portrait of the mercurial sea. Known as the “poet of landscape,” Hiroshige captured the beauty of nature with nuance and lyricism. With a tangible atmosphere and dynamic perspective, Sea Off Satta in Suruga Province showcases Hiroshige’s passion for the natural world.

Other impressions of this print can be found in the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and British Museum.

About the artist

Born in Edo as Tokutaro Ando, Hiroshige Utagawa grew up in a minor samurai family. His father belonged to the firefighting force assigned to Edo Castle. It is here that Hiroshige was given his first exposure to art: legend has it that a fellow fireman tutored him in the Kano school of painting, though Hiroshige’s first official teacher was Rinsai. Though Hiroshige tried to join Toyokuni Utagawa's studio, he was turned away. In 1811, young Hiroshige entered an apprenticeship with the celebrated Toyohiro Utagawa. After only a year, he was bestowed with the artist name Hiroshige. He soon gave up his role in the fire department to focus entirely on painting and print design. During this time he studied painting, intrigued by the Shijo school. Hiroshige’s artistic genius went largely unnoticed until 1832.

In Hiroshige Utagawa's groundbreaking series of Japanese woodblock prints, The 53 Stations of the Tokaido (1832-1833), he captured the journey along the Tokaido road, the highway connecting Edo to Kyoto, the imperial capital. With the Tokugawa Shogunate relaxing centuries of age-old restrictions on travel, urban populations embraced travel art and Hiroshige Utagawa became one of the most prominent and successful ukiyo-e artists. He also produced kacho-e (bird-and-flower pictures) to enormous success. In 1858, at the age of 61, he passed away as a result of the Edo cholera epidemic.

Hiroshige Utagawa’s woodblock prints continue to convey the beauty of Japan and provide insight into the everyday life of its citizens during the Edo period. The appeal of his tender, lyrical landscapes was not restricted to the Japanese audience. Hiroshige’s work had a profound influence on the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists of Europe: Toulouse-Lautrec was fascinated with Hiroshige’s daring diagonal compositions and inventive use of perspective, while Van Gogh literally copied two of Hiroshige's prints from the famous series, 100 Famous Views of Edo in oil paint.