Yoshitoshi, Biographies of Modern Men

Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) Biographies of Modern Men (Kinsei kyogiden), 1865. Oban.

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An early Yoshitoshi series, made when he was about twenty-six; two decades before the well-known masterpieces such as his great series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (1885-1892), and New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts. This particular print, showing Araoi Tomekichi encountering a shadow is number 6 in the series and for some reason does not appear in Keyes’ catalogue of 1982, thereby making his entries for this series out by one thereafter.

There seems to be no record of who Araoi Tomekichi  actually was. Nevertheless, here we see him fearlessly attacking a ghost, which recoils in terror. The drawing of the ghost is especially interesting. Yoshitoshi has already perfected the very three dimensional manner of articulating the features of monsters. The figure of Araoi Tomekichi  is derived entirely from his teacher Kuniyoshi, dead only four years. The figure of the ghost however is wholly original, wholly his own.

The overall layout of this series of thirty-six prints is closely modelled on Kuniyoshi’s Biographies of the Loyal Retainers: the cursive script that recounts the story, the prominent series cartouche and the figure standing in an unadorned space opened up only by implication or minimal shading.

A fine early Yoshitoshi, colour, condition and impression are all very good.

22.5 x 35 cm.