Born in Tokyo, the Japanese artist Ando Hiroshige mastered the art of Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e). The professional name, Utagawa Hiroshige, arose two years succeeding his parent's death when Hiroshige became an apprentice in Utagawa Toyohiro as an Ukiyo-e artist working exclusively in prints. The name is a combination of his birth name (Andō Tokutarō) along with his master's name, Utagawa. The artist concentrated on drawing landscapes, which was atypical of the ukiyo-e genre, as standard focus was on beautiful women, popular actors, and other scenes of the urban pleasure districts of Japan's Edo period. The popular series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji by Hokusai had a strong influence on Hiroshige's choice of subject, though his approach was more poetic and ambient than the latter's bolder, more formal prints. Subtle use of color was essential in Hiroshige's prints, often printed with multiple impressions in the same area and with extensive use of bokashi (color gradation), both of which were rather labor-intensive techniques. Hiroshige's death marked the beginning of a rapid decline in the ukiyo-e genre. His work had a strong influence on western European paintings as a part of the trend in Japonism. Artists, such as Manet and Monet, collected and closely studied Hiroshige's compositions. Vincent van Gogh even went so far as to paint copies of two of Hiroshige's prints.
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