Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Dawn Moon and Tumbling Snow

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Dawn Moon and Tumbling Snow
100 Views of the Moon
Woodblock Print
14.5" x 9.5"
Very fine color and impression, light original album backing, embellished with oxidation, black lacquer and embossing.


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Akiyama Buemon
Go Kaisai

About the art

This print illustrates a scene from the final act of the kabuki drama Chushingura. After eighteen months of planning, the plot of the 47 ronin to avenge their lord culminates in a night attack on the mansion of Moronao, the man responsible for their master’s death. However, Moronao’s followers remain dutiful to him and the snow-covered garden of the mansion becomes a bloody battlefield. Yoshitoshi depicts Kobayashi Heihachiro, a retainer of the villain Moronao. In the play, Kobayashi valiantly defends the entrance to Moronao’s room until the young Rikiya defeats him in a spectacular fight beside the frozen pond. Kobayashi knows his death is imminent, yet he fights with unwavering courage. 

About the artist

The son of a Tokyo physician, Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (né Kinzaburo Yoshioka) is considered one of the last great masters of ukiyo-e art. As a young boy he showed remarkable talent and began to study under the renowned Kuniyoshi at the age of 12. Yoshitoshi also studied under Yosai and was adopted by the Tsukioka family.


As modernization pushed ahead, Yoshitoshi suffered a nervous breakdown in 1872, living in poverty and ceasing all artistic production. A year later, he resumed working; adopting the artist name Taiso and fulfilling his creative potential. In 1885, he began one of his most acclaimed series, 100 Views of the Moon. In the spring of 1892, he suffered his final mental breakdown and was committed to the Sugamo Asylum. On the 9th of June 1892, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 53.


Yoshitoshi’s prints are known for their eerie and imaginative component. He worked in a Japan undergoing rapid change, straddling the domains of the old, feudal systems and the new, modern world. His considerable imagination and originality imbued his prints with a sensitivity and honesty rarely seen in ukiyo-e of this time period. From ghost stories to folktales, graphic violence to the gentle glow of the moon, Yoshitoshi not only offers compositional and technical brilliance, but also unfettered passion.

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