Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Katada Bay Moon: Saito Kuranosuke

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Katada Bay Moon: Saito Kuranosuke
100 Views of the Moon
Woodblock Print
14.5" x 9.5"
Very fine color and impression, light original album backing, embellished with black lacquer and embossing.


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Akiyama Buemon

About the art

Once Toyotomi Hideyoshi defeated Mitsuhide’s forces at Yamazaki, Saito Kuranosuke and his son, Toshimitsu, fled to Katada in Omi province. They hid in the home of his former nurse. Kuranosuke fell ill with a high fever and was captured by his enemies in this helpless condition. He was executed at Awataguchi and his son became a monk. In the quiet light of the full moon, Kuranosuke looks over his shoulder to the place where he will meet his end. The horse casts its eyes up towards its master, expressing the same uneasiness gnawing at Kuranosuke. Lake Biwa reflects the silver moonlight in the background of this ominous scene. 

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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