Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) One Hundred Aspects of the Moon: Huai River Moon (Waisu no tusk) 1887. Oban.
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A fine print from the revered series of the One Hundred Phases of the Moon. Here Yoshitoshi reaches back to Chinese Mythology. Nominally, the title suggests a story of revenge and murder in ancient China… in fact Yoshitoshi illustrates the story of the Chinese Emperor, here seen in Japanese military dress, discovering a simple fisherman. The man is fishing with a straight nail and he is so virtuous that the fish willingly impale themselves on his behalf. The moon is incidental to the story. The Emperor is so impressed that he hires the fisherman as his councillor. The old man went on to serve the Emperor for twenty years, dying in 1120, at the age of 90.
This late series, the One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, is a staggering achievement. The modernity of the idea, the style of his mature drawing and design, the conceptual leaps that he makes with each piece make it the outstanding print series of the second half of the nineteenth century. Considered to be his finest work, it occupied the last seven years of his life, each new print being issued at intervals of a few months. The public interest in the series was intense and made Yoshitoshi, after years of financial hardship, famous and secure. There is a great deal of academic speculation as to the narrative of the series; most of the prints draw upon scenes of Chinese and Japanese history and mythology and each contains an image of the moon, but there is no clear theme and no commentary. Yoshitoshi was however sceptical of the Meiji rush to modernisation and it is generally accepted that the series is a fond reflection of the past. Stylistically the prints are modern, unique and easily recognisable. Yoshitoshi developed a style that owed much to western influence and there is a tension here between what is represented and how it is rendered. The series remains hugely collectible and prices for early editions such as this one remain high.
Colour, impression and condition are all fine, some trimming to the left hand margin, otherwise excellent. Blind embossing to the cartouche with burnishing to the Emperor's uniform.
Published by Akiyama Buemon.
35.5 x 24 cm.