Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Seson Temple Moon: Captain Yoshitaka

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Seson Temple Moon: Captain Yoshitaka
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

Fujiwara Yoshitaka was a courtier and an accomplished poet. His works are included in the famous anthology, One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets. He was a very devout Buddhist and wanted to become a monk, but family responsibilities prevented him from doing so. Yoshitaka died in a smallpox epidemic when he was only twenty-one years old. In this print, the handsome, melancholy young man almost seems to be aware of his impending death. Yoshitoshi presents the ill-fated courtier on the grounds of Sesonji, a small temple outside of Kyoto. The minimalistic background amplifies Yoshitaka’s loneliness. 

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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