19th century Ukiyo-e Printmaker
Yonejiro, Gyokuoro, Ikkaisai, Kaisai, Oju, Sokatei, Taiso
Yoshitoshi Tsukioka is often considered the last great master of the ukiyo-e tradition of woodblock printing. At the age of eleven, he became the apprentice to Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861), one of the most accomplished woodblock print designers in the capital city of Edo (Tokyo). The influence of his teacher's designs on Yoshitoshi can be observed throughout his career, which spanned the last years of old feudal Japan (Tokugawa/Edo period, 1603-1867) and the early Meiji period (1868-1912), which saw the beginnings of rapid modernization. At times stricken by both poverty and depression, Yoshitoshi nevertheless produced designs that were refreshing and daring in their dynamic composition, energetic lines, and vivid colors derived from new aniline dye imported from the West.
Although for a time he revived his career by making prints of current events for the newspaper, Yoshitoshi had a special fondness for historical subjects and often documented famous battles and heroes of the past in his prints. This display brings together select prints from the following sets by Yoshitoshi: Twenty-Four Accomplishments in Imperial Japan (1881-87), featuring important figures in Japanese imperial history; Yoshitoshi's Courageous Warriors (1883-86), showing portraits of legendary heroes; and A New Selection of Eastern Brocade Pictures (1885-89), capturing scenes from popular Kabuki plays in diptych format.