Masayoshi (1764-1824)

Two Gray Starlings

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Masayoshi (1764-1824)
Two Gray Starlings
Kaihaku Raikin zui (Compendium of Birds Imported from Overseas)
Woodblock Print
c. 1790
9.5" x 14.75"
Keisai sha
Very good color and impression, overall surface soiling

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Kitao Masayoshi

About the art

In this print, Masayoshi pairs two gray starlings with the berries of the loquat tree. As the bird on the right grabs a berry with his beak, white fringe of feathers standing up atop the crown of his head, Masayoshi visually plays off the characters for “starling” in Japanese, hakutō-ō, which also mean “white-haired old man.” This print is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


About the artist

Masayoshi worked as both a painter and printmaker. He studied first under Kitao Shigemasa, followed by Kano Eisen’in in the 1790s. Masayoshi’s printed works, ranging from single sheet prints to illustrated books, were produced under the go, or artist name, “Masayoshi.” He assumed the name Kuwagata Keisei in 1797 when he was appointed the official painter of the regional lord of Tsuyama. During this period, Masayoshi worked mainly in a Kano style, though he completed some printed albums as well. He also produced ryakuga-shiki manuals, which taught aspiring artists to paint in a quote, abbreviated style.

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