Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Ishiyama Moon: Lady Murasaki

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Ishiyama Moon: Lady Murasaki
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 oxidation.


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Akiyama Buemon

About the art

Born around 978, Murasaki Shikibu is the author of the world’s first novel, Genji Monogatari or The Tale of Genji.” This epic follows the romantic exploits of the shining prince Genji. The tale was enormously popular in her lifetime, influencing art, literature, and poetry and continues to be read today. Yoshitoshi portrays Lady Murasaki at Ishiyama, where she is said to have written The Tale of Genji. She sits on the temple’s veranda under the full moon. A blank scroll is unrolled on her desk as she gazes beyond the rocky cliffs, waiting for a spark of inspiration. 

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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