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Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

Shizu Peak Moon: Hideyoshi

Series: 100 Views of the Moon
Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: 1888
Size (H x W): 14.5 x 9.5 (inches)
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Seals: Taiso
Signature: Yoshitoshi
Conditon: Very fine color and impression, light original album backing, embellished with black lacquer and embossing.



Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a military leader and gifted politician, widely considered to be one of the greatest heroes in Japanese history. He unified Japan after years of civil war and even tried to invade China. Hideyoshi served under Oda Nobunaga until Nobunaga was assassinated in 1582. A struggle followed to determine his successor. At Shizugatake, Hideyoshi defeated his rivals and became the most powerful man in Japan. Y oshitoshi presents the hero in full armor on the shore of Lake Biwa, moments before his decisive morning attack. Hideyoshi’s iconic helmet bursts through the right margin of the composition. He uses a giant shell as a war trumpet, sounding the attack. The dawn moon sets behind Shizugatake Hill, its pale reflection lighting the water. 

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.