Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Hazy Night Moon: Kumasaka

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Hazy Night Moon: Kumasaka
100 Views of the Moon
Woodblock Print
14.5" x 9.5"
Very fine color and impression, light original album backing, embellished with embossing, and pearlized pink and black lacquer.

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Akiyama Buemon

About the art

The bandit priest Kumasaka Chohan led a band of robbers. Minamoto Yoshitsune killed Chohan when his gang staged a night attack on an inn where Yoshitsune was staying. In this scene from the noh play Kumasaka, the ghost of Kumasaka Chohan appears to a travelling priest one moonlit night beside a pine tree. On the stage, neither the pine tree nor the moon is shown–the audience imagines them from the dialogue.  In this print, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi depicts the ghost in an extravagant noh costume and fierce, dynamic posture. The ghost’s halberd cannot be contained by the composition, its blade disappearing off the left edge. 

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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