Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Moon of Yamaki Mansion: Kagekado

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Moon of Yamaki Mansion: Kagekado
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

This print illustrates an episode from the Tale of Heike, a chronicle of the civil wars of the 13th century. Kato Kagekado was sent by Minamoto Yoritomo to assassinate Taira no Kanetaka during a brutal night attack. Kagekado found Kanetaka’s looming figure silhouetted by the moonlight on a sliding door. He tricked his opponent by thrusting out his helmet on the end of his naginata (a weapon consisting of a sword-like blade attached to a pole). As Kanetaka slashed at the helmet, Kagekado attacked from the opposite side and killed his opponent. This victory marked the Minamoto clan’s initial step to control of Japan. 

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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