Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Kumonryu, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, Tattoo Design
Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839 – 1892)
Title: Kumonryu Shishin on a moonlit night in the village of the Shi-clan
Series: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Size: 25.3 x 37 cm
Original Japanese woodblock print.
During his career Yoshitoshi designed several prints devoted to the Suikoden theme, which is not surprising considering his apprenticeship with Kuniyoshi, the master of the genre. One of the best known Suikoden heroes, the tattooed Kumonryu Shishin, apparently is a Yoshitoshi favourite and he appears in the artist’s prints more than once. By far the most celebrated example is the portrayal that is part of the series ‘One Hundred Aspects of the Moon’. Usually Kumonryu is shown in spectacular fighting scenes, but in Yoshitoshi’s version the hero is seated on a bench underneath a weeping willow, calm and collected, on a moonlit night. His pose and facial expression are marks of self-confidence and toughness, with a touch of arrogance. Unlike Kuniyoshi’s version from Suikoden, Yoshitoshi managed to give his design an aura of serene expression and beauty, by combining only the most essential elements in a well-balanced composition.
Hokusai (1760 – 1849) was the first print artist to illustrate Suikoden, and Yoshitoshi’s teacher, Kuniyoshi, made his reputation with a flamboyant series of designs from the novel in 1827.
|Print Format||Oban (Vertical)|
|Artist Name||Yoshitoshi Tsukioka|
|Title||Kumonryu Shishin on a Moonlit Night in the Village of the Shi-clan|
|Subject||Samurai & Male, Kabuki Theatre, Tattoo|
|Dimensions||25.3 × 37 cm|
|Condition Report||Light creases and minor soiling on the margins. Very small thin area on the left-hand side margin.|
|Series||One Hundred Aspects of the Moon|
Yoshitoshi Tsukioka was one of the leading figures in ukiyo-e during the Meiji era (1868-1912), and perhaps the greatest ukiyo-e artist among his contemporaries. Yoshitoshi’s style was dynamic and distinctive: he was known for experimentation in style and genre, as well as for his innovative works. No other artist had produced ghost prints or included a range of different subjects in a single series before he did.
The publishing of Yoshitoshi’s most popular, and possibly best, series 'One Hundred Aspects of the Moon' (Tsuki Hyakushi) commenced in 1885. Consisting of 100 prints, this series spanned a wide variety of subjects, such as warrior, animals, ghosts, natural phenomena, beauties and others. The artist’s early tendency for gore and horror was replaced by 100 images of lyricism, calm, spirituality and psychological depth. This series also seemed to mark Yoshitoshi’s artistic independence and departure from a traditional ukiyo-e style. 'Thirty-two Aspects of Customs and Manners' (Fuzoku Sanju Ni So) is the series, in which Yoshitoshi’s new style, as seen in 'One Hundred Aspects', was successfully blended with the traditional ukiyo-e style. The series was published in 1888 and portrays different women. In 1889 another great series, called 'New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts' (Shinkei Sanju Rokkai) started to be published. In this series, images of apparitions, mostly based on folklore and plays, were depicted powerfully, imaginatively and very beautifully. This was, perhaps, a catharsis for the artist who claimed to have seen ghosts and strongly believed in supernatural beings.