Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

The Moon's Inner Vision: Taira no Tomoume

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
The Moon's Inner Vision: Taira no Tomoume
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

In this print, the blind warrior Taira no Tomoume is shown in a brutal fight to the death. While many of Yoshitoshi’s early works show bloody battle scenes, he spares the explicit bloodbath in this series. In fact, this print is one of the most active battles in the series. Instead, Yoshitoshi concentrates on the emotional quality of the battle and the human struggle of the combatants. Details, such as the fallen banner, suggest Tomoume’s situation is hopeless, yet his face shows his determination to fight to the end. The moon appears in this print only through the warrior’s personal emblem, a poem attached to his back referring to his heart and the moon. 

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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