Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

Uesugi Kenshin

Series: 100 Views of the Moon
Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: 1890
Size (H x W): 14.5 x 9.5 (inches)
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Seals: Taiso
Signature: Yoshitoshi
Condition: Very fine color and impression, light original album backing, embellished with black lacquer and embossing.



Uesugi Terutora was a powerful 16th century warrior. When his older brother appeared too weak to lead the clan, he usurped him. Terutora took priest vows at a young age, a common practice for feudal lords at this time, and adopted the name Kenshin. He led his family in many great military campaigns, declaring war on both Takeda Shingen and the Hojo clan of Odawara. He even dared to attack Oda Nobunaga, the most powerful man in Japan at the time, but died of illness before this bold campaign concluded. In this print, Kenshin wears full armor with a priest’s headdress in place of a helmet. As he sits on a deerskin, he watches geese fly into the distance and composes a poem. 

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 woodblock 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.