Tag Archive for: Utagawa (Ando) Hiroshige

Traveling from Tradition to Modern Through Japanese Prints

Colorful views of Japan conveyed in traditional Japanese woodblock prints comprise this week’s collection filled with both modern and traditional works. With this array of Japanese woodblock prints, you can see directly how Japanese printmakers impacted the development of modern art. Featuring names like Hokusai and Hiroshige, this sale reveals nuanced techniques and traditional Japanese values.

Utagawa Hiroshige, aka ando Hiroshige, was a Japanese artist of the 19th century and is considered the last great master of the ukiyo-e movement. His approach was more poetic and ambient than the typical ukiyo-e style, and his innovative compositions were a great influence to Western painters.

The term ukiyo-e translates to “pictures of the floating world” and refers to a genre of Japanese art with a wide span of imagery such as kabuki actors, folk tales, landscapes and even erotica. This movement was critical in forming the Western perception of Japanese art.

Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858), ‘Abalone, Needlefish and Peach Blossoms,’ 24.2 x 37.1 cm (9 1/2in x 14 5/8 in), printed in circa 1832. Estimate: $400-$500. Jasper52 image


Mountain Road is a traditional landscape scene of mountains and countryside by Gihachiro Okuyama (1907-1981). He was an active participant in both the sosaku hanga movement, which was the avant-garde movement of the 1950s-1970s, and the shin hanga movement, showing a mixture of traditional Japanese and modern Western elements.

Gihachiro Okuyama, ‘Mountain Road,’ 48.9 x 24.9cm, Showa (1926-1989). Estimate: $150-$200. Jasper52 image


Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. He is best known as the author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which includes the internationally iconic print titled The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, created during the 1820s, as well as Mount Fuji Seen From the Sea.

Hokusai Katsushika, ‘Mount Fuji Seen From the Sea,’ Showa edition published by Takamizawa, publisher’s seal on verso, 12.4in x 9in. Estimate: $400-$500. Jasper52 image


Shiro Kasamatsu (1898-1991) found early success. His prints were seen by Watanabe Shozaburo in 1919, and he published more than 50 prints with them by the late 1940s. He was a part of the shin-hanga movement, which was created from the late Meiji era until World War II, showing a mixture of traditional Japanese and modern Western elements.

Shiro Kasamatsu, ‘Kinokunisaka in the rain,’ published by Watanabe, 6 mm seal, signed Shiro, postwar impression, 1946-1957, ôban format, 26.5 x 38.8 cm. Estimate: $250-$350. Jasper52 image


Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the shin-hanga style movement, a movement that was influenced by European Impressionism with imagery focused on landscapes, women and nature. Yoshida is noted especially for his excellent landscape prints.

Hiroshi Yoshida, ‘Fujiyama from Okitsu,’ ôban format, 39.9 x 27.4 cm (15 11/16in x 10 13/16 in), printed circa 1928. Estimate: $800-$1,000. Jasper52 image


Hasui Kawase (1883-1957) was a Japanese artist and printmaker who also became a prominent figure in the shin-hanga (“new prints”) movement of the early 20th century. His first edition Spring Evening, Ueno Toshogu Shrine from 1948 is a stunning example of his work.

Kawase Hasui, ‘Spring Evening, Ueno Toshogu Shrine,’ 1948 (first edition), published by Watanabe Shozaburo, 9 1/2in x 14 1/4in. Estimate: $800-$1,500. Jasper52 image


Enjoy this beautiful collection and remember to register to bid.

5 Artists Every Japanese Woodblock Print Collector Should Know

What influences and inspires greatness? Depending on the modality, it can be genetic, environmental, scientific, and perhaps social. When speaking of the five Japanese woodblock artists capturing significant interest from today’s collectors, many appear to share a few key commonalities. These artists are Haruyo Morita, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa (Ando) Hiroshige, Kitagawa Utamaro, and Ohara Koson.

In comparing them, their artistic abilities were identified at a young age, and in most cases, encouraged. They studied with master artists of varying practices early in life. Several of them changed their names during their lifetime, as a means of showing respect for their teachers or indicating their evolution as an artist. Several of the ukiyo-e artists who created prints in the 19th and early 20th centuries also designed illustrations reflective of two conflicts (the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars).

Although the influence from conflict of war is a departure from the origins of the ukiyo-e style of art, which largely depicted scenes of kabuki performances, actors, natural vistas, and women, it is representative of ukiyo-e artistry as a reflection of life and culture of Japan’s Edo period (1615-1868).

Let’s take a closer look at these five popular artists.

Geisha with Warrior Holding Samurai Sword, Serigraph. Sold for $275. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Geisha with Warrior Holding Samurai Sword, Serigraph, by artist Haruyo Morita. Sold for $275. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Haruyo Morita is the “youngster” of the group. Born in 1945 she is said to bring a “contemporary approach to traditional ukiyo-e woodblock art.” A student of Master Husuki, she received her first award for artwork at the age of 17. Her professional experience included working as a kimino painter and designer, in addition to being a creator of woodblock prints. Currently residing in Korora, Australia, her work is available in various forms including prints, jigsaw puzzles and calendars.


The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, 1820s. Sold for $800. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, by artist Katsushika Hokusai. Recut Showa era edition published by Watanabe. Sold for $800. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is said to have began his artistic endeavors at the age of six. By the time he turned 12, his father sent him to work in a bookshop and serve as an apprentice to a wood carver. This piqued an interest that evolved into many artistic forms during his lifetime. By the age of 18, he was studying under master ukiyo-e artist Katsukawa Shunshō, and by the time he was 19, his first prints were published. His earliest work was a series of prints featuring kabuki actors. He published these works under the name Shunshō. This was the first of an estimated 30 names he used during his professional career. Having knowledge of the various names he used, and the time periods, can be very helpful when authenticating and acquiring prints by Hokusai.

Hokusai’s work is also cited as an influence for artists including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Mary Cassatt, and Claude Monet, among others. It is said that Monet was introduced to Hokusai’s work during the Exposition Universelle in 1867. Ukiyo-e prints, including examples by Hokusai were part of the display in the Japan Pavilion.
Quickly becoming a fan of Japanese prints, Monet reportedly had at least 20 prints by Hokusai in his personal collection.


Kinryuzan Temple, Asakusa (Lantern at Thunder Gate), 19th century. Sold for $190. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Kinryuzan Temple, Asakusa (Lantern at Thunder Gate), by Utagawa Hiroshige. Recut Showa era edition published by Watanabe. Sold for $190. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Utagawa (Ando) Hiroshige was born Andō Tokutarō in 1797 in Edo (now Tokyo), Japan. After becoming an orphan at the age of 13, he began studying with revered artist Utagawa Toyohiro, and at the age of 15, he changed his name to Utagawa Hiroshige. He is best known for his impressive series of landscape woodblock prints. Among his most notable works: “Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji,” circa 1831; “The 55 Stations of the Tokaido,” circa 1833-34; “Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kiso Road,” circa 1835; and “One Hundred Views of Edo”, circa 1856. He finished “Views of Edo” just two years prior to his death from cholera. Similar to Hokusai, Hiroshige’s artwork appealed to fellow revered artists, including Van Gogh.


Women Sewing, Triptych, by Kitagawa Utamaro, late 18th century. Sold for $280. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Women Sewing, Triptych, by Kitagawa Utamaro. Recut Showa era edition published by Tanseisha. Sold for $280. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Kitagawa Utamaro (1750-circa 1806) is a bit of a mystery, as fewer facts about his life are known. He, too, began studying under a master painter, Toriyama Seiken, at a young age. It’s believed Utamaro’s first professional work, the cover of a kabuki playbook, was published when he was in his early 20s. He is recognized as one of the first ukiyo-e artists to create woodblock prints featuring sensual figures of women, rather than groups, which was the norm. Another note of achievement was his development of a technique that produced more realistic flesh tones on subjects in prints.


Cat Watching a Goldfish, 10½ by 15½ inches. Sold for $440. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Cat Watching a Goldfish, 10½ by 15½ inches. Posthumous Showa era edition published by Watanabe. Sold for $440. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Ohara Koson was born Ohara Matao in 1877 in Kanazawa, the capital of what is now Japan’s Honshu Island. He too studied under a noted master artist, Suzuki Koson, whose name he adopted as his professional moniker. He also used the names Shoson and Hoson. Professionally he was most recognized for his printmaking work in the kacho-e style. This refers to prints featuring birds and flowers. He also spent many years teaching at the Tokyo School of Fine Art, before his death in 1945. As was the case with many similar Japanese artists, much of Koson’s woodblock prints were exported to the United States and Europe.

The invention and expanded use of photography largely replaced woodblock prints as a means of illustration. However, Japanese woodblock prints and the artist printmakers who introduced the world to some of the characters and experiences of Japanese culture through their art, continue to resonate with collectors and historians on a global level.

Sources: The Metropolitan Museum of Art;
Minneapolis Institute of Arts;

View this week’s Japanese Woodblock Print auction and register to bid here.