John Stevenson – Yoshitoshi’s one hundred aspects of the moon

Uitgever: Hotei Publishing. Leiden
Uitgegeven in: 2001
ISBN: 90 748 2242 8
Aantal pagina’s: 272
Taal: Engels


Tekst binnenflap boek

Letter Y

oshitoshi was the most influential and prolific woodblock-artist of Meji Japan. This book presents his masterpiece, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (Tsuki hyakushi). The series was begun in 1885 and completed just before the artist’s death in 1892. It was wildly popular even as it was being produced. New design were eagerly awaited, with editions selling out before dawn on the day of publication.

Each of the one hundred images in the series is shown here in full color and nearly life-size. opposite each design a commentary gives the story behind the picture. These wonderful tales form a panorama of Japanese history and legend that resonates with the richness and sublety of traditional Japanese culture.

Yoshotoshi straddled two worlds, traditional japan and Meji – he was twenty-eight when the Meji Restoration opened Japan to westernisation in 1868. This was a fascinating period of history. No other sophisticated culture in modern times has experienced such radical change as Japan did in the last third of the nineteenth century, and the tremors reverberate to this day.

Passionate and complex, Yoshitoshi led a very colorful,life, described in a biography of the artist which introduces the series. In addition to the one hundred images of the moon, ninety more color pictures demonstrate Yoshitoshi’s vivid imagination and the development of his distinctive style.

An essay explains the importance of One hundred Aspects of the Moon in the context of Japanese woodblock prints. Technical details relating to its production are lucidly described.

The ‘Moon Series’ contains major paradoxes. Yoshitoshi workoed within a traditional art form, yet his drawing incorporated western techniques and was unlike any style that had come before him. Methods of mass reproduction like photography and lithography were making the woodblock obsolete, yet people clamored for the prints of the ‘Moon series’. The series looked backwards in the sense that it illustrated historical events, yet it broke new ground by portraying intense human emotion.

In the ‘Moon Series’ Yoshitoshi kept alive Japan’s glorious and clorful history, reminding his contemporaries of what they were losing when they turned their backs on the past. After his death his work was gradually forgotten, but one hundred years later Yoshitoshi is being rediscovered.


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Yoshitoshi’s one hundred aspects of the moon
Afbeelding 71 – Murasaki Shikibu