Yoshitoshi, Allusions to the 7 Luminaries - Earth

Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) Allusions to the Seven Luminaries (Mitate shichi yo sei): Earth, 1878. Oban.

This very lovely series is little known and rarely illustrated. It is a mitate… a comparison or game picture. In this case Yoshitoshi has assigned seven abstracts a quality and then looked for a visual means to show that quality, hidden though, as in a word game. The planet here is the Earth, alluded to by the soil in the large planter from which grows the decorative peony. The other prints do not conform to our idea of the solar system, nor any idea of physics. The title is usually translated as the Seven Planets, sometimes as the Seven Stars and also the Seven Luminaries. The latter is better I think. The others in the series are: Metal for Tooth Blackening, Wood for the Plum Tree, Fire in the Lamp Stand, Cascading Water, The Full Moon, and Sunrise.

Each print is shown with an elegant woman bearing witness to the alluded luminary. These women, though dressed as Heian period Court Ladies of the ninth century have a distinctly modern feel, despite the obvious use of Hikimayu - shaved and elaborately painted eybrows and blackened teeth. They are true Meiji aristocrats, self possessed and aware. Yoshitoshi shows them as mistresses of their households and the prints have the feeling of early modern graphic arts, which Yoshitoshi undoubtedly influenced… there is a lot of these languorous drawn women in the work of for example Alphonse Mucha.

An unusual Yoshitoshi, with a strange artist’s cartouche on its side at the bottom. Very good colour, impression and condition. 

24.5 x 36 cm.