Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Matsuo Basho and Two Farmers, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

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Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892)
Title: 'Since the Crescent Moon I have Been Waiting for Tonight'
Series title: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Date: 1891
Size: 24.5 x 35.8 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

'One Hundred Aspects of the Moon' is one of Yoshitoshi's most popular series. It contains one hundred woodblock prints depicting various, unrelated figures from Japanese and Chinese culture, with the moon as its unifying theme and exploring a range of tones and emotions for the subjects depicted. Yoshitoshi worked within a traditional art form, yet his drawings incorporated western techniques and were unlike any style that had come before him. The series was begun in 1885 and completed just before the artist's death in 1892.

This design is the last of the series and Yoshitoshi chose to depict Matsuo Basho, the great haiku poet, joining two farmers celebrating the mid-autumn festival. The farmers sit on a straw mat and are having a feast with cakes and sake. Basho leans on his walking staff and looks at them, grateful for the invitation. While the poet was born in a samurai family, he preferred a more frugal life, suggested here by his robes of a lay priest that he wore on his journeys. While coming from different backgrounds, Yoshitoshi suggests that the celebration of the moon gives them a common ground. As with the rest of the designs in the series, this is proof of Yoshitoshi's sensitivity and his master rendition of human emotions.

More Information
Print Format Oban (Vertical)
Artist Name Yoshitoshi Tsukioka
Title 'Since the Crescent Moon I have Been Waiting for Tonight'
Subject Samurai & Male, Others
Dimensions 24.5 x 35.8 cm
Condition Report Crease on the right margin, light soiling.
Series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

Yoshitoshi Tsukioka

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.