The Road to Kyoto
Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) was one of Japan's leading ukiyo-e artists. He studied with the great 18th century master Utagawa Toyohiro before establishing his own studio. The 23 scenes from teh series Tokaido gojosan tsugi no uchi (the fifty-three stations of the Tokaido) on display represent some of the artist's finest work. The series was begun in 1832 after Hiroshige returned to Edo (Tokyo) from a trip to Kyoto along the Tokaido road.
Unlike many ukiyo-e artists who concentrate on figural studies, Hiroshige devotes himself to the exploration of nature's beauty. His works are highly evocative and atmospheric depending upon the manipulation of tones for their effect. The rainswept hills of Shono (41.080.46), for instance, are rendered lively by varying the density of the greys and blacks that are used to suggest rain while the snows of Kambara (41.080.16) are made vivid by the play of white against grey. The effect of this is to transform each scene into a powerful statement abotu the changing moods of nature, so that each nuance of light and shade becomes a force of its own.