Rare woodblock print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
True story of the Japan from the series: MUSHABURUI "Military brilliance for the thirty six hero-poets.
SUBTITLE: Death of Taira No Tomomorí (1152-1185)
...who was the son of Taira No Kiyomori, military leader of the late Heian period of Japan.
ORIGINAL JAPANESE WOODBLOCK PRINT by "YOSHITOSHI"
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) is generally considered the last great master of the Japanese woodblock print and by some, one of the great innovative and creative geniuses of that artistic field.
During his life, he produced a large number of prints, estimated by some authorities at over 10,000 in total, this included many series of prints, many of great merit, as well as numerous diptychs, triptychs, etc.
His career spanned two eras - the last years of the old feudal Japan, and the first years of the new modern Japan. Like many Japanese, while interested in the new things from the rest of the world, over time he became increasingly concerned with the loss of many outstanding things from the traditional Japan, among them the classic woodblock print.
By the end of his career, Yoshitoshi was in an almost single-handed struggle against time and technology. As he worked on in the old manner, Japan was adopting the mass reproduction methods of the West, like photography and lithography. Nonetheless, in a Japan that was turning away from its own past, he almost single-handedly managed to push the traditional Japanese woodblock print to a new level, before it effectively died with him.
While demand for his prints continued for a few years, eventually interest in him waned, both in Japan, and around the world. The canonical view in this period was that the generation of Hiroshige was really the last of the great woodblock artists, and more traditional collectors stopped even earlier, at the generation of Utamaro and Toyokuni.
However, starting in the 1970's, interest in him resumed, and re-appraisal of his work has shown the quality, originality and genius of the best of it, and the degree to which he succeeded in keeping the best of the old Japanese woodblock print, while pushing the field forward by incorporating both new ideas from the West, as well as his own innovations.
His life is perhaps best summed up by John Stevenson:
Yoshitoshi's courage, vision and force of character gave ukiyo-e another generation of life, and illuminated it with one last burst of glory.
-- "Yoshitoshi's One Hundred Aspects of the Moon", 1992
His reputation has only continued to grow, both in the West, and among younger Japanese, and he is now universally recognized as the greatest Japanese woodblock artist of his era.