Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

Gravemarker Moon

Series: 100 Views of the Moon
Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: 1886
Size (H x W): 14.5 x 9.5 (inches)
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Seals: Yoshitoshi
Signature: Yoshitoshi
Conditon: Very fine color and impression, light original album backing, embellished with embossing and oxidation.



Ono-no Komachi was a 9th century poetess famous for her beauty. Her life inspired seven significant noh plays, each reflecting a period in her life. The last, “Sotoba Komachi” or “Grave-post Komachi,” shows her as an old beggar woman sitting on the fallen post and regretting the passing of her beauty. Yoshitoshi conveys this famous scene with a melancholy mood. Dressed in the noh robes worn by her character, Komachi’s tattered hat reveals her struggle, but her face retains a very slight flicker of beauty and a wealth of wisdom. 

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. 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 nature. 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.