Yoshida Hiroshi (吉田博) (Biographical details)

Yoshida Hiroshi (吉田博) (printmaker; Japanese; Male; 1876 - 1950)

Also known as

Yoshida Hiroshi; Ueda Hiroshi

Biography

Painter and print artist, one of the most famous artists of the 'shin hanga' (New Print) style. The life of Yoshida is covered in authoritative detail in Japanese and English in Yoshida (Yoshida, 'Chronological History', 1987, pp. 178-93). The facts in this account are derived mainly from that source.
Yoshida was born as the second son of Ueda Tsukane in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, a schoolteacher from an old samurai family. In 1891 he was adopted by his art teacher Yoshida Kasaburo in Fukuoka and took his surname. In 1893 he went to Kyoto to study painting, and the following year to Tokyo to join Koyama Shotaro's Fudosha private school; he also joined the Meiji Fine Arts Society. These institutions were all teaching and encouraging Western-style painting. From 1899 to 1901 he made the first of many visits to the USA and Europe and was successful in selling his water-colours in the former. In 1902 he helped reorganise the Meiji Fine Arts Society as the Taiheiyo-Gakai (Pacific Painting Association) for which he suggested the name. He was again in the USA, Europe and north Africa in 1903-7, with his stepsister and fellow-artist Fujio, whom he married on their return. From then until 1920 he became a very successful painter in oils and water-colour in the light, airy style he had learned in the West, but his independent spirit led him into many quarrels with the artistic establishment in Japan.
In 1920 Yoshida began to design woodblock prints for Watanabe, who was keen to have a Western-style artist in his stable. In September 1923 all the blocks for his prints and existing stock were lost in the Kanto earthquake when Watanabe's shop was destroyed. Soon after he left for the USA once more to raise funds for himself and for others; he toured the west of the country and realised that good prints were eagerly sought after in North America. On his return he set up his own establishment to produce his designs in print form.
From 1925 onwards Yoshida devoted his career mainly to prints, supervising all aspects of their production to very high standards. Many of his sets were on foreign subjects, including the USA and Canada, Europe, Egypt, India (visited 1930-1), and Korea and China (visited 1936). In 1938 he went on the first of three further trips to China as an official war artist. He designed his last print in 1946 but continued to paint. He was the prime Japanese organiser of the Toledo Exhibitions in 1930 and 1936, and as a result many of his prints were included: nine were shown in the first (Blair, 1930) and sixty-six in the second (Blair, 1936). Both exhibitions increased his existing popularity in the USA and led to his being widely collected there. His orientation towards a Western audience is shown in his publication of the book 'Japanese Woodblock Printing' (Yoshida, 1939) in English. Yoshida's sons Toshi (1985, 0614, 014) and Hodaka both became print artists, the latter mainly in mixed media, as is his wife, Chizuko. Yoshida's wife, Fujio, also produced a few prints.

Bibliography

Smith, Lawrence, 'Modern Japanese Prints 1912-1989: Woodblocks and Stencils', BMP, London, 1994, p. 38 and nos 47-8.
Yoshida, Hiroshi, 'The Complete Woodblock Prints of Yoshida Hiroshi', Abe Publishing Co., Tokyo, 1987 (includes good bibliography in Japanese and English).
Yoshida, Hiroshi, 'Japanese Woodblock Printing', Sanseido, Tokyo and Osaka, 1939.
Paechter, Irwin J., 'Kawase Hasui and his Contemporaries', exh. cat., Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York, 1986, pp. 31-7.
Blair, Dorothy, 'A Special Exhibition of Modern Japanese Prints', Toledo Museum of Art, 1930.
Blair, Dorothy, 'Modern Japanese Prints: Woodblock Prints by Ten Artists: The work of the past five years', Toledo Museum of Art, 1936.
Merritt, Helen, 'Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Early Years', University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1990, pp. 75-80, 94-5.
Statler, Oliver, 'Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn', Turtle, Rutland, Vermont, and Tokyo, 1956, pp. 167-72.
Riccar Art Museum, Tokyo, 'Hiroshi Yoshida mokuhanga-shu', exh. cat, 1976.
Smith, Lawrence, 'The Japanese Print Since 1900: Old Dreams and New Visions', BMP, London, 1983, no. 81.
Smith, Lawrence, Harris, Victor, and Clark, Timothy, 'Japanese Art: Masterpieces in the British Museum', BMP, London, 1990, no. 237.