One of the most famous Japanese woodblock print artists of the 20th century, Toshi Yoshida was the eldest son of Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950), a highly successful printmaker in the shin-hanga movement, who specialised in the subject of landscape. During his childhood, an illness left him unable to attend school and he enjoyed watching animals and his father's printmaking workshop. Encouraged by his grandmother, Toshi often sketched animals.
During his artistic career, Toshi Yoshida struggled to balance staying loyal to his father and developing his own style, while seeking to renew the declining ukiyo-e tradition as a shin-hanga artist. Although he chose animals as his speciality in 1926, his early works through the 1950s, like 'Tokyo at Night' (1938), adopted landscapes in a style similar to his father’s. However, compared to Hiroshi’s elaborate, subdued and monumental landscape prints, Toshi’s usage of rich and profound colour succeeds in expressing candid traditional Japanese scenery.
The death of his father in 1950 marked Toshi's total break from his past and he produced a series of abstract prints. These experimental designs draw from expressionism and pop art with bold colour palettes. The respect for his father had kept Toshi away from trying it earlier, but after a few years he returned to his original realistic style and his innate affinity for animals and birds. From 1971 to 1994, until the last years of his life, Toshi worked almost exclusively on animal prints. Toshi was also a children's book illustrator. He wrote his own short stories and made illustrations in the ‘Animal Picture Book’ series. As with his father’s prints, Toshi signed his artworks in pencil and very often the titles provided are in English.