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Yoshitoshi Woodblock Print, Kyoudou Risshiki, 1902*

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Woodblock Prints: Pre 1910: Item # 419807

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Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892). Subject: “Kyoudou Risshiki” (Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition)*, The Young Wife, Ukita, Guarding her husband, Lord Tomita Nobutaka Anozu no Shiru who is mounted on horseback. Signature: “taiso Yoshitoshi”. Artist’s Seal: Taiso. Publisher: Matsuki Heikichi. Date: Meiji 35* (1902), 8th month (August,) 5th day. Format: oban tate-e, H.12.5 x W.8.25". Condition: Very good colors and impression, album backing retained, no holes or tears, overall condition very good. *Comments: Dated at 1902, this is obviously a posthumous strike of an earlier print. Yoshitoshi originally contributed four prints to the original series of fifty-two prints first published between 1885 and 1890, along with six other artists; Kiyochika (17 prints,) Toshikata (16,) Inoue Yasuji (11,) Chikanobu (2,) Kunichika (1,) and Kuniaki (1.). [ref. Smith: “Kiyochika: Artist of Meiji Japan”, 1988.] Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892 His given name was Yonejiro, and he became a student of the great ukiyo-e artist, Kuniyoshi, at the age of eleven. In 1853, the same year that Commodore Perry’s fleet arrived in Japan, Yoshitoshi composed his first woodblock print, a triptych of the Minamoto and Taira naval battle at Dannoura. His life and prints often mirrored the political turmoil and cultural upheaval besieging Japan in the late 1800's. He is often remembered by his prints featuring bloody and gruesome scenes. However, one of his last series, “One Hundred Aspects of the Moon,” also showed the artist’s talent and innovation. The Moon series exhibited not only technical skill and artistic creativity, but also the pinnacle of Yoshitoshi’s career in terms of emotional maturity. An excellent resource for information on the Moon series, and on the life of Yoshitoshi, is John Stevenson’s “Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon” (Hotei Publishing, 2001.)