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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

A Poem by Hidetsugu

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
A Poem by Hidetsugu
One Hundred Views of the Moon
Woodblock Print
14.5" x 9.75"
Very good color, impression and state, embellished with black lacquer-like burnishing and embossing

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Questions about this piece? 212.688.0188


Akiyama Buemon

About the art

Toyotomi Hideyoshi conquered all of Japan at the end of the 16th century, but did not have an heir for many years. He therefore adopted his sister’s son and gave him the name Hidetsugu. The relationship quickly soured. Within two years, a true heir was born to Hideyoshi and he turned against his adopted son. Hideyoshi imprisoned the unfortunate young man in a temple and eventually had him killed. Here, Hidetsugu is shown reflecting on his unhappy fate. The poem describes the melancholy sight of the autumn moon seen through a window with bamboo bars. He sits upon an extravagant piece of fabric, head bowed in contemplation. To the left of the composition, a retainer waits by his master.

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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