Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

The Cry of the Fox

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
The Cry of the Fox
One Hundred Views of the Moon
Woodblock Print
13" x 9"
Very good color and impression, light surface soiling, light original album backing, embellished with embossing


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Akiyama Buemon

About the art

Konkai (Fox’s Cry) is another name for the kyogen dramatic farce better known as Tsurigitsune (fox trapping). A trapper receives a surprise visit from his uncle, the priest Hakuzoshu, who delivers a passionate lecture on the wickedness of trappingfoxes. Later, the trapper realizes that the visitor was not his uncle at all but a fox in disguise. Yoshitoshi depicts the sly fox on his way home, still wearing the priest’s clothing, but gradually reassuming his true form. Human hands clasp prayer beads as the auburn snout of the fox glances over his shoulder. Foxes are magical creatures in Japanese folklore. While not malicious, they are known for their trickery. 

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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