Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

An Iron Cauldron and the Moon at Night

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
An Iron Cauldron and the Moon at Night
100 Views of the Moon
Woodblock Print
14.5" x 9.5"
Yoshitoshi giga
Very fine color and impression, light original album backing, embellished with embossing.

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Akiyama Buemon
Yoshitoshi no In

About the art

An unusually large kama, an iron kettle used for cooking rice or heating water, peeks across the left edge of the print. Beside it, a pair of scoundrels named Kofuna no Gengo and Koshi Hanzo plan to smash the kama, perhaps so that they can carry it away in small pieces. Yoshitoshi portrays this humorous subject in a style close to caricature, exaggerating the expressions and composing the foolhardy thieves with comical proportions. This print is signed Yoshitoshi giga, or “drawn for amusement by Yoshitoshi,” a signature generally used for his caricature and parody prints. 

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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