Ukiyo-e Japanese Artist

Japan

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, also known as “Taisō” meaning “great resurrection,” is known as the last great master of ukiyo-e, a type of Japanese woodblock printing. The artist is also known for his turbulent life, which is evident in his energetic, complex, and beautifully violent prints.

Works by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

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Priest Kinezumi Koboshi Kaiden with Lightening by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Priest Kinezumi Koboshi Kaiden with Lightening by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Edo period Ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock print depicting a priest warrior battling through lightning. From the series Handsome and Brave Heroes of Suikoden. Published 1866.

Size: 7" w x 9" h
Condition: Good color and impression. Patched up wormholes and repairs. Overall good condition for age.

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Gojo Bridge Moon by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Gojo Bridge Moon by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Meiji Era Japanese woodblock ukiyo-e print. Published 1888. Protrays an encounter between Minamoto no Yoshitsune, the most courageous and chivalrous hero of the late 12th-century civil wars, and the warrior-priest Musashibō Benkei. Alternate title Gojōbashi no tsuki.

Size: 15 1/3" h x 10 1/4" w
Condition: Very good color and impression.

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Kan Izumi Aiming Rifle by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Kan Izumi Aiming Rifle by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Meiji era nishiki-e Japanese woodblock print from the series 100 Relentless Warriors. Published 1868.

Size: 14" h x 9" w (oban size)
Condition: Good overall color and impression. Evidence of previous album or book binding on the right edge.

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Tenkai Sojo by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Tenkai Sojo by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, ). Japanese nishiki-e woodblock print depicting priest and fierce warrior Tenkai who died in 1643 at the age of 108. From the series selection of 100 Relentless Warriors. Published 1868.

Size: 14" h x 9" w
Condition: Very good color and condition. Evidence of album attachment in left edge. Slight color loss to left edge.

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Princess Chūjō of the Taima Temple by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Princess Chūjō of the Taima Temple by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Japanese woodblock print from the series 24 Accomplishments of Imperial Japan. Published by Tsuda Genshichi. Published in 1887. 

Size: 14" h x 9 1/2" w
Condition: An area of oxidation near the snake, minor marks and flaws, otherwise very good condition. Fine impression and colour. Retains Japanese album backing.

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Moon at Yamaki Mansion by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Moon at Yamaki Mansion by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Meiji era Japanese woodblock print depicting Kato Kagekado thrusting out his helmet to deceive Taira no Kanetaka. From the series 100 Aspects of the Moon. Published by Akiyama Buemon. Published 1890.

Size: 14" h x 9 1/2" w
Condition: Excellent color and impression.

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Wanting To Go Abroad by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Wanting To Go Abroad by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Japanese Meiji era woodblock print depicting a woman dressed in partially European clothes and reading a western book. From the series A Collection of Desires. Published by Inoue Shigehei. Published 1877-1878.

Size: 14 1/4" h x 9 3/4" w
Condition: Excellent color and impression. A small nick to the right edge, very faint centre fold visible verso, otherwise very good condition, fine impression and colour.

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Shinozuka Iga-no-kami Sadatsuna lifting a giant beam by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Shinozuka Iga-no-kami Sadatsuna lifting a giant beam by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892).

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Akushichibyōe Kagekiyo and Mionoya Shirō Kunitoshi battling on beach by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Akushichibyōe Kagekiyo and Mionoya Shirō Kunitoshi battling on beach by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892).

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Oishi Kura-no-suke Yoshio by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Oishi Kura-no-suke Yoshio by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892).

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Gen no Sanmi Yorimasa and I no Hayata by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Gen no Sanmi Yorimasa and I no Hayata by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892).

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Kibi Daijin Seated at a Chinese Table by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Kibi Daijin Seated at a Chinese Table by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892).

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Mountain Moon After Rain Tokimune by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Mountain Moon After Rain Tokimune by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). From the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon. Dated 1885. Japanese woodblock print (Nishiki-e) ink on paper.

Goro Tokimune was one of the Soga brothers whose story of revenge became a legend in Japan. The two young brothers were orphaned as children when their father was killed by his rival, Kudo Suketsune. Goro was placed in a monastery to be trained as a priest, he later escaped, and he and his brother went into hiding. On a rainy night in 1193 the brothers seized their opportunity. During a hunting party of the great lords, the brothers snuck into the camp and killed Suketsune avenging their father's death. Juro, Goro's brother, was killed during the attempt at escape, and Goro was captured and later ordered to death by the then emperor Yoritomo.

This work depicts Goro Tokimune rolling up his sleeves outside of the hunting camp on Mt. Fuji before their revenge. You can see a hototogisu fly over, with the clouds and the moon in the background. The hototogisu is a Japanese cuckoo, and symbolizes the call of spirits to the next world.

Size: 14" h x 9" w (approx.) (Oban size)
Condition: Excellent colors and impression. Slight soiling to surface. Partial trimming to margins. Slight paper loss to lower part of left and right margins. Mark below signature seal.

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Maisaka by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Maisaka by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). From the series Famous Places on the Tōkaidō. A tremendous series which was a collaboration between all of the best Ukiyo-e artists of the mid 1800's. Dated 1863. Japanese woodblock print (Nishiki-e) ink on paper.

Size: 14" h x 9" w (approx.) (Oban size)
Condition: Excellent color and impression. Right and bottom margin trimmed.

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Nomi no Sukune Wrestling by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Nomi no Sukune Wrestling with Taima no Kehaya by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). From the series Yoshitoshi's Warriors Trembling with Courage. Meiji Era Japanese woodblock print (Nishiki-e) ink on paper. Dated 1886 (2nd edition, after the 1st edition printed in 1885).

Curator's Note:


This work depicts what is considered to be the first ever bout of sumo wrestling, which is now Japan's national sport. The print shows Nomi no Sukune wrestling Taima no Kehaya. The story is told that during the reign of emperor Suinin in 23 B.C. Nomi no Sukune fought Taima who was considered to be a nobleman of tremendous strength and enormous stature. Nomi no Sukune however delivered devastating blows during this battle as he broke Taima's ribs with a firm kick to the chest and later his back which would lead to Taima's death the following day.

As the legend goes, Taima no Kehaya boasted that he was the strongest man “under the heavens." which insulted the Emperor Suinin who then commanded Nomi no Sukune to defeat him.

The current form of sumo, which is fought in a ring, came into being during the 16th century as a result of a tournament organized by the then principal warlord in Japan, Oda Nobunaga.

Size: 14" h x 9" w (approx.) (Oban size)
Condition: Excellent color and impression. Some foxing to top margin. Partial trimming to margins. Slight staining to left and right side margins. What looks to be small pinholes in right margin.

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Inaba Mountain Moon by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Inaba Mountain Moon by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). From the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon. Dated 1885. Japanese woodblock print (Nishikie-e) ink on paper.

This work depicts who we expect to be Lieutenant Hideyoshi as he reaches the top of a cliff on Inaba Mountain as he ascends to Gifu Castle. The Gifu Castle dominated the landscape in Mino province and played a brief but significant role in Japanese military history during the period of civil war in the mid-1500's.

Size: 14" h x 9" w (approx.) (Oban size)
Condition: Excellent colors and impression. Partial trimming to margins. Slight staining upper left. Slight toning to verso.

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Soga no Gorō Tokimune Gosho no Gorōmaru by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Soga no Gorō Tokimune Gosho no Gorōmaru by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Japanese woodblock print ink on paper (Nishiki-e). Dates to circa 1886. From the series Courageous Warriors. Plate #30 from the series.

Size: 14" h x 9" w
Condition: Very good.

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Okubo Hikozaemon Tadanori by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Okubo Hikozaemon Tadanori by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Japanese woodblock print ink on paper. Dates to 1881. From the series 24 Accomplishments of Imperial Japan. Plate #13 in the series.

Size: 14" h x 9" w
Condition: Very good.

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Torii Suneemon Katsutaka by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Torii Suneemon Katsutaka by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Japanese woodblock print ink on paper (Nishiki-e). Dates to circa 1892. From the series 24 Accomplishments of Imperial Japan. Plate #23.

Size: 14" h x 9" w
Condition: Very good.

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Satō Shirōbyōe Tadanobu by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Satō Shirōbyōe Tadanobu by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Woodblock ink on paper (Nishiki-e). Dates to 1881. From the series 24 Accomplishments of Imperial Japan. Plate #16 from the series.

Size: 14" h x 9" w
Condition: Very good.

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Tsunenobu from One Hundred Aspects of the Moon by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Tsunenobu from One Hundred Aspects of the Moon by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Artist seal bottom left. Dated January 1886.

Curator's Note:

Although I personally tend to lean more towards contemporary and abstract works, I still have a true fascination with imperial Japan, its noblemen, warriors and gods. This work is from Tsukioka Yoshitoshi's important series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon. The image depicts a seated nobleman observing Raiden in the sky. I find the whole series to be one of my favorites from any artist of the Meiji period.

Size: 14 1/2" h x 9 15/16" w
Condition: Very good color and impression. Thin backing to verso.

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Dawn moon of the Shinto rites by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Dawn moon of the Shinto rites (Shinji no zan茆etsu) by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Taiso) (Japan, 1839-1892). Meiji Period Japanese Woodblock Print. #33 from the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon. Printed June 1886. Published by Akiyama Buemon. The Sanno festival is a traditional event still celebrated on even-numbered years in Tokyo. The print shows a float with a dancer impersonating the Dragon King, preceded by another float with a crowing rooster on a drum, passing Edo castle.

Size: 13-1/2" h x 9" w + Margins as shown
Condition: Excellent colors and impression, good overall condition. Backed on an acid free album page. small repair in the upper left corner.

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Huai River Moon Wu Zixu by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka

Huai River Moon Wu Zixu (Waisui no Tsuki- Goshiho) by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (Japan, 1839-1892). Meiji Period Japanese Woodblock Print. Printed in 1887. Published by Akiyama, from the series 'One Hundred Aspects of the Moon'.

Size: 13" h x 8 7/8" w
Condition: Very good. Strong color and impression.

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Daro no tsuki - Taira no Kiyotsune by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Daro no tsuki - Taira no Kiyotsune by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi  (Taiso) (Japan, 1839-1892). Japanese woodblock print. #50 in the 100 Aspects of the Moon series. Printed circa 1887.

Size: 13 1/2" h x 9" w + Margins as shown 
Condition: Very fine. Excellent colors and impression. Very good overall condition.

 

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Okatsu of the Obana Clan by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Okatsu of the Obana Clan by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). Japanese woodblock print from the series Personalities of Recent Times which features a wide variety of personalities from contemporary, and historical times in Japan. The portraits are considered exceptional in execution. These prints date from late in Yoshitoshi's career, at this time, Yoshitoshi was well established as a great artist, and his work was in high demand. Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Taiso) (1839-1892) Printed in Circa 1887

Size: 9 3/4" w x 14 3/8" h
Condition: Horizontal Centerfold now flattened, rubbing, some creases, remnants from prior mounting (Paper). Very good colors, impression and overall condition.

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Mt. Otawa Moon by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

One Hundred Aspects of the Moon # 35 Mt. Otawa Moon by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Taiso) (Japan, 1839-1892). Published June 1886 by Akiyama Buemon. This represents a scene from the Noh play Tamura. Three itinerant priests meet a man sweeping fallen cherry petals as they visit Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. He is supposed to have been the spirit of the warrior Sakanoe no Tamuramaro, who assisted the priest Enchin in founding Kiyomizu Temple on Mount Otawa. Rare first edition.

Size: 13-1/2" h x 9" w
Condition: A tiny repair in the upper margin, thin backing from Meiji era. Excellent colors and impression, very good overall condition.

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Lady Kido Suikoin by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Lady Kido Suikoin from the series Personalities of Recent Times by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Taiso) (Japan, 1839-1892). Published circa 1887 by Yamato Shimbunsha. The series features illustrations of a wide variety of personalities from contemporary, and historical times. The portraits are considered exceptional in execution. These prints date from late in Yoshitoshi's career, at this time, Yoshitoshi was well established as a great artist, and his work was in high demand. Rare 1st Edition of this print.

Size: 9 3/8" w x 14" h
Condition: Backed on a thin edo era paper. Mild soiling, some stains, partially trimmed on the left margin affecting the seals. Excellent colors and impression, good to very good overall.

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The Actor Bando Hikosaburo V by Tsukyoka Yoshitoshi

The Actor Bando Hikosaburo V by Tsukyoka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). 19th century Japanese woodblock print. Printed in Circa 1887 by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Taiso).

Size: 10" w x 14 5/8" h
Condition: A few pin holes in the left margin, some soiling in the bottom margin, very little remnants from prior mounting (Paper residu), else very fine.

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The Courtesan Miyagino and Her Younger Sister Shinobu by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

The Courtesan Miyagino and Her Younger Sister Shinobu by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892). The official title is Keisei Miyagino imoto Shinobu from the series Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety in Imperial Japan (Kôkoku nijûshi kô). Artist chop mark in the bottom left. Dates to the Meiji period circa 1881-1887.

Miyagino and Shinobu, whose farmer father was murdered by the samurai Shiga, swore to avenge his death. In secret they trained themselves in the martial arts. They then went to the local daimyo and challenged Shiga to a duel, killing him in the fight that followed. The image depicts the meeting of Miyagino and Shinobu in the brothel where Miyagino works. After the death of their father, Shinobu went in search of her sister in Edo. Arriving at the brothel, her country dialect is incomprehensible to the courtesans there, except for Miyagino. After questioning Shinobu, Miyagino discovers they are sisters, hears of their father's death, and the two plot revenge.

Size: 13 1/4" h x 8 5/8" w
Condition: Average for age. Slight tear to top. Tear to bottom. Backed with cardboard.

 

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The Sumo Wrestler Umegatani Totaro by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi work no longer available

The Sumo Wrestler Umegatani Totaro by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892).

Biography

print biography

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (月岡 芳年, Japan, 1839-1892), also known as “Taisō” (大蘇) meaning “great resurrection,” is known as the last great master of ukiyo-e, a type of Japanese woodblock printing. The artist is also known for his turbulent life, which is evident in his energetic, complex, and beautifully violent prints.

Yoshitoshi was born in old Edo, Japan in 1839 during the Meiji period. His father was a wealthy merchant who bought his way to samurai status, a decorated hierarchical position in nineteenth-century Japanese society, but was violently murdered while Yoshitoshi was a young man. In 1850, when Yoshitoshi was just 11 years old, he apprenticed with Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861), one of the great masters of woodblock printing. Yoshitoshi spent years copying Kuniyoshi’s sketches and perfecting his draftsmanship before beginning his own concentration of work. He also studied western sketches and prints that Kuniyoshi collected. Yoshitoshi took on Kuniyoshi’s practice of drawing out the images with red ink first and then outlining with black ink. On his prints, Yoshitoshi also used the signature "Ikkaisai" or "Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi" prior to 1873. It is said that Yoshitoshi used this notation to emulate his teacher Kuniyoshi's use of the studio name "Ichiyûsai.” After 1873, Yoshitoshi dropped the "Ikkaisai" signature in favor of his nickname and artist signature, “Taisō.”

Yoshitoshi’s made his first recognized print in 1853. After Kuniyoshi’s death in 1961, Yoshitoshi produced 44 prints, despite the hardship and grief he was facing after Kuniyoshi’s death. From 1862-63, Yoshitoshi produced 63 prints that depicted kabuki -theatrical, overly dramatized, and exaggerated figures. Yoshitoshi’s career spanned two eras - the last years of feudal Japan, and the first years of modern Japan following the Meiji Restoration. He was 28 when the Meiji restoration took place, and in 1877, was a witness to the Satsuma Rebellion. Yoshitoshi’s prints contained graphic violence and death scenes, parallel to the lawlessness of Japanese feudal society imposed by the Tokugawa shogunate and emergence of Westerners. What makes Yoshitoshi’s violent prints unnerving yet intriguing to viewers, is that the artist sketched real life severed heads and limbs from corpses of killed soldiers from battle he witnessed around him, including the Battle of Uneo. Yoshitoshi incorporated these witnessed accounts in his prints.

The public and foreigners were drawn instantly to his beautifully violent and colorful work. With popularity came the need to produce more work. In 1865, Yoshitoshi made over 95 published designs- mostly historical or based on military subjects. Included in the 95 prints were two series-Tsûzoku Saiyûki (A Modern Journey to the West), about a Chinese folk-hero who is shown as a monkey, and Wakan Hyaku Monogatari (One Hundred Stories of China and Japan), which depict traditional Japanese ghost stories. Yoshitoshi also designed the series, Kinsei Kyôgiden (Biographies of Modern Men), which displays fighting scenes between two gambling troupes. However, some of Yoshitoshi’s most graphically violent prints were created from 1866-68. The series Eimei Nijûhasshûku (Twenty-eight famous murders with verse) show stabbings and decapitations of men and women that are intensely bloody and gruesome. Yoshitoshi also created the series Azuma No Nishiki Ukiyo Kôdan (Tales of the Floating World on the Eastern Brocade) in 1867. Then in 1868, following the Battle of Ueno, Yoshitoshi created a series of prints called Kaidai Hyaku Sensô (Selection of a 100 Warriors), which portrays close-up, foreshortened, and unusual angles of fighting military soldiers. He also produced his great series Tsuki Hyakushi (One Hundred Aspects of the Moon) (1885 - 1892), and Shingata Sanju-roku Kai Sen (New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts) (1889 - 1892).

By 1869, Yoshitoshi was considered Japan’s best artist and printmaker. He also worked with his friend and actor, Danjuro, and the group, Kyûkokai (Committee for Research into the Past), comprised of scholars and historians, to preserve some of the traditional Japanese arts. The woodblock-print art form was dying in the transition to Japan’s modernization and artists began turning to mass production techniques like lithography and photography. Yoshitoshi was one of the last sole woodblock printmakers after his mentor Kuniyoshi and the notable artists Hiroshige and Kunisada passed on. Yoshitoshi insisted on high standards of woodblock and print production and helped save it temporarily from degeneracy. Despite Yoshitoshi’s popularity from his violent prints, the artist lived in poverty for most of his life. With the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, Yoshitoshi was able to fully support himself with the demand for prints and illustrations for circulating newspapers. The artist was not financially secure until 1882. However, the artist struggled with lifelong mental illness and depression and was submitted to a mental facility in his late 40s.

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi died June 9, 1892 at age 53 from a cerebral hemorrhage. Yoshitoshi’s complex and energetic work is highly regarded and can be found in numerous collections and major museums like the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, British Museum, Hagi Uragumi Museum in Yamaguchi, and the Edo-Tokyo Museum, among others.