Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Mt. Ashigara Moon: Yoshimitsu

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Mt. Ashigara Moon: Yoshimitsu
100 Views of the Moon
Woodblock Print
14.5" x 9.5"
Very fine color and impression, light original album backing, embellished with embossing, oxidation and black lacquer, woodgrain visible.


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Akiyama Buemon

About the art

Yoshimitsu was musician as well as a warrior. He studied the sho, a mouth organ made of bamboo, with Toyowara Tokimoto. Tokimoto taught his student his musical secrets, but died before he could pass them on to his son Tokiaki. When Yoshimitsu left for battle against Kiyowara family in 1087, he noticed that Tokiaki was following him. Yoshimitsu urged Tokiaki to return home, but the young man refused. Finally, Yoshimitsu realized that Tokiaki wanted to learn the his father’s musical secrets. The pair stopped at Mount Ashigara and Yoshimitsu taught Tokiaki the songs of his father. Satisfied, Tokiaki returned home. In this print, Yoshimitsu holds his precious instrument to his lips as a tree trunk cuts a dramatic diagonal through the composition. 

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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