Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

The Moon of the Moor: Yasumasa

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
The Moon of the Moor: Yasumasa
100 Views of the Moon
Woodblock Print
14.5" x 9.5"
Very fine color and impression, light original album backing, embellished with embossing.


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Akiyama Buemon

About the art

Fujiwara no Yasumasa was a renowned musician in the Heian court. As he made his way home one evening, playing his flute, his wicked brother Hakamadare Yasusuke (also known as Kidomaru) began to follow him. Yasusuke planned to attack his brother and steal his robes, yet he was so charmed by the beautiful music of the flute that he abandoned his evil intentions. In this print, dark clouds obscure the moon as Yasusuke creeps through the susuki grass. Yasumasa’s posture sways with the tune of his flute. Yoshitoshi also illustrated this tale as a triptych. 

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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