Dear Friends,
This will be the penultimate release in the introductory section to my forum on the Great Master Art Works in the World History. Today we show Plum orchard at Kameido Shrine, an almost unknown masterpiece by the great nineteenth-century Japanese print-master Ando Hiroshige, side-by-side with one of the finest renderings ever made of it in a painting by the no less great master of European post impressionism Vincent van Gogh (Japonaiserie: Plum tree in Bloom [after Hiroshige], September-October 1887. Vincent van Gogh Foundation, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam, the Netherlands). In doing so, I have wished to emphasize the Eastern art influence on the Western arts as well as provide the visitors with a most interesting visual comparison.  

As was pointed out in the last release, at a certain stage in his life, Van Gogh became interested, like many other European artists of his time, in Japanese master prints of the eighteen century which he reproduced in a most approximate fashion, yet maintaining his own characteristic style.
The Plum orchard, which dates from 1857, was part of a series of one hundred views of famous sights in Tokyo, a combination of landscapes and 'ukiyo-e' tableaux, depicting scenes from everyday life. In Japanese, 'ukiyo-e' means 'pictures of the floating world'. Ukiyo-e is the term for prints and paintings illustrating life in the brothel districts and theatre.

The Plum orchard became famous in Europe through Vincent van Gogh
's rendering, which added a border of Chinese and Japanese fantasy letters (not shown here. See HERE the full rendering with fringes).

As always, good feedback is welcome. Your posting at this forum is highly appreciated.
Thank you,
Luis Miguel Goitizolo


Plum orchard at Kameido Shrine
by Ando (Utagawa) Hiroshige
(woodcut, 1857)

born 1797, Edo [now Tokyo], Japan
died Oct. 12, 1858, Edo


in full  Ando Hiroshige,  professional names  Utagawa Hiroshige  and  Ichiyusai Hiroshige,  original name  Ando Tokutaro  Japanese artist, one of the last great ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”) masters of the colour wood-block print. His genius for landscape compositions was first recognized in the West by the Impressionists and Postimpressionists. His print series “Fifty-three Stations on the Tokaido” (1833–34) is perhaps his finest achievement.

Ando Hiroshige was born in Edo (now Tokyo) and at first, like his father, was a fire warden. The prints of Hokusai are said to have first kindled in him the desire to become an artist, and he entered the studio of Utagawa Toyohiro, a renowned painter, as an apprentice. In 1812 Hiroshige took his teacher's name (a sign of graduation), signing his work Utagawa Hiroshige. His career falls roughly into three periods. From 1811 to about 1830 he created prints of traditional subjects such as young women and actors. During the next 15 years he won fame as a landscape artist, reaching a peak of success and achievement in 1833 when his masterpiece, the print series Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido (scenes on the highway connecting Edo and Kyoto), was published. He maintained this high level of craftmanship in other travel series, including Celebrated Places in Japan and Sixty-nine Stations on the Kiso Highway. The work he did during the third period, the last years of his life, is sometimes of lesser quality, as he appears to have hurriedly met the demands of popularity. He died of cholera on October 12, 1858, in Edo.

With Hokusai, Hiroshige dominated the popular art of Japan in the first half of the 19th century. His work was not as bold or innovative as that of the older master, but he captured, in a poetic, gentle way that all could understand, the ordinary person's experience of the Japanese landscape as well as the varied moods of memorable places at different times. His total output was immense, some 5400 prints in all.

Technical data and
Note on the print

Plum orchard at Kameido Shrine
1857 (150 Kb);
From "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo"; Woodblock print, 13 1/4 x 8 5/8 in;
The Brooklyn Museum,

Hiroshige's series of prints was reprinted many times and often copied by his students. The print shown here is from the original series. The colours in later editions are not as bright and the shadows on the ground are indistinguishable. The title of the work and the artist's signature are both in red cartouches. The date stamp, the censor's seal and the publisher's mark are in the margin.

See Van Gogh's Profile


(1) This image is a courtesy of Rijksmuseum.

(2) Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, Web Museum.

(3) Source: Rijksmuseum, Web Museum.