Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (月岡芳年) (Biographical details)

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (月岡芳年) (painter/draughtsman; Japanese; Male; 1839 - 1892)

Also known as

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi; Gyokuo (玉桜); Gyokuoro (玉桜楼); Kaisai (魁斎); Ikkaisai (一魁斎); Taiso (大蘇); Sokatei (咀華亭); Tsukioka (月岡); Yonejiro (米次郎)


Painter; also designed prints. Residences as follows: Nakabashi (1865); Tachibana-cho nichome (1866); Oke-cho, then Hiyoshi-cho (early years of Meiji era, 1868-1912); Minami Kinroku-cho (1876); Maruya-cho (1878); Minami Kinroku-cho (1879); Nezu Miyanaga-cho (1883); Asakusa Suga-cho (1885); temporary lodgings at Honjo Fujishiro-cho in his last years (these dates given by Suzuki Juzo in 'Genshoku ukiyo-e daihyakka jiten' ('Ukiyo-e Encyclopaedia'). Vol. 2, Tokyo, Taishukan, 1982, p. 103). Pupil of Utagawa Kuniyoshi; also studied the style of Kikuchi Yosai.

Yoshitoshi is said to have entered Kuniyoshi's studio in 1850, and his earliest work appears to be a triptych of 'Heike Warriors Falling into the Sea' published in 1853. In the last years of the Edo period many prints of warriors, beauties and actors; some notable works in the sadistic, blood-drenched taste then prevalent. During 1872-3 suffered from a mental illness which would trouble him again in his last years. From c. 1873 influenced by the style of Kikuchi Yosai, combining this with elements derived from European art into a personal idiom, illustrating mainly historical subjects. From 1874 illustrations for colour woodblock 'newspapers' and an ever-increasing number of illustrations for novels. Major print series include 'Shinsen azuma nishiki-e' (1885-6), 'Fuzoku sanjuni-so' (1888) and 'Tsuki hyakushi' (1885-91), as well as vertical diptychs of historical subjects in a strong, dynamic style full of fantasy and invention.

Yoshitoshi's preparatory drawings, of which the British Museum has recently acquired a group of fifty-two (1990.0614.01), demonstrate this strength and power of invention vividly: ideas are first sketched in red ink and then the final, more definite outlines for the woodblock print drawn over this in black, much in the same manner as Kuniyoshi, though with a highly individual nervous and energetic line. The few paintings by Yoshitoshi so far introduced include a scene from the 'Battle of Shizugadake' painted on a hemp curtain nine metres long for a festival in Kofu in 1865; a set of twelve hanging scrolls on subjects taken from the 'Tsuki hyakushi' ('One Hundred Phases of the Moon') series; and several impressive votive plaques presented to shrines and temples.