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Born the son of a samurai in 1831, Gyosai (also known as Kyosai) worked as a printmaker, illustrator, and Kano painter during the Meiji period. He studied with Kuniyoshi as a child before seeking the tutelage of Maumura Towa. At age 19, Gyosai’s newest teacher, Kano Tohaku, bestowed Gyosai with the name “Toiku” and admitted him to the Kano house. Gyosai spent eight years with the school before setting off on his own. He settled in Tokyo and worked as an independent painter, though he produced ehon (illustrated books) and single-sheet woodblock prints as well. Many of his prints feature ravens. Gyosai’s work soon earned great acclaim worldwide: in 1873, he exhibited at the Vienna International Exposition, followed by the Paris International Exposition in 1883. Working mainly in the Kano style, Gyosai instills his work with persistent humor.
"I love them, I have a lot of them (shunga)." - Pablo Picasso