Hiroshige and Japanese Art: Swallows in Flight

Hiroshige and Japanese Art: Swallows in Flight

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) was born during the Edo Period. He is one of the most famous artists to emanate from Japan. Accordingly, his art inspired European, Japanese, North American, and artists from other parts of the world.

Artists including Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Mstislav Valerianovich Dobuzhinsky (1875-1957), Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Van Gogh (1853-90), Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), Édouard Manet (1832-1883), Claude Monet (1840-1926), and many others were inspired by Hiroshige.

The British Museum says, “Hiroshige also designed many masterpieces in the genre of bird and flower prints, once again creating a world where poetry and painting combined.”

In the prints by Hiroshige in this article, the emphasis is on the swallow bird – fused respectively with cherry blossoms, wisteria, and willow branches.

The Met Museum recites one poem on a different print by Hiroshige – concerning the swallow and nature:

The setting sun—  
over the mountain ridge
sends the swallows home.

(Translation by John T. Carpenter)

Overall, Hiroshige produced many lovely prints that highlight swallows from various angles. He did this by highlighting the gracefulness of swallows – with the shared natural elements being cherry blossoms, wisteria, and willow branches in these four prints by Hiroshige.


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