Taiso Yoshitoshi / Japan 1839–1892 / August: Somezono watching the moon over Shinagawa Harbor (from ‘Pride of Tokyo’s Twelve Months’ series) 1880 / Colour woodblock print on paper / 38 x 26cm / Purchased 1997 with funds from the International Exhibitions Program

Taiso Yoshitoshi
August: Somezono watching the moon over Shinagawa Harbor (from ‘Pride of Tokyo’s Twelve Months’ series) 1880

On Display: QAG, Gallery 17

Taiso Yoshitoshi was an outstanding figure in Meiji Japan. Although popular opinion regards ukiyo-e (woodblock print) production as having been in decline in the second half of the nineteenth century, some of the most bizarre and interesting imagery emerged at this time, in part driven by the interrelationship between East and West. Yoshitoshi, a pupil of Kuniyoshi, preserved vigour in the figurative print during these years of social, political and artistic upheaval.

This image incorporates all the high-key colour and complex patterning that characterises bijin-ga (beautiful women) prints from this period. The sombre atmospheric mood, which appears to be typical of Yoshitoshi’s work, does not diminish the obvious glamour of the print’s subject.