Amoeblog

A look at Tsukioka Yoshitoshi on his 175th birthday

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 30, 2014 12:32pm | Post a Comment

Kanaki Toshikage portrait of Yoshitoshi

One of Japan's greatest artists, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, was born on this day in 1839, which I reckon makes it as good a time as any to blog about him. For those unfamiliar, Yoshitoshi is widely regarded as one of ukiyo-e's greatest innovators, as well as its last major practitioner. He produced an enormous body of work (about 10,000 pieces by some estimates) although he's best known for his bloody pieces -- which comprise a large chunk of his oeuvre. After falling out of fashion amongst Japanese art collectors, he was "rediscovered" in the 1970s and is now rightfully placed amongst the ukiyo-e greats.

*****

Yoshitoshi was born Owariya Yonejiro (???), in the Shimbashi district of Edo (now Tokyo), in 1839. His father, Owariya Kinzabur?, was a wealthy merchant and samurai. The identity of his mother is unknown, although Kinzabur?'s mistress, apparently not wanting the share their home with the child, sent him off to live with an otherwise childless relative, Ky?ya Orizabur?, when Yonejiro was about three. At the age of five, after showing interest in art, the pharmacist uncle (or cousin by other accounts) began offering the young boy art instruction.

Continue reading...

Happy birthday, Hokusai!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 31, 2012 02:49pm | Post a Comment

Self-portrait of Hokusai from 1842

Today is the date traditionally recognized as the birthday of one of my favorite Japanese artists, ?? ?? (Katsushika Hokusai). Without a doubt he is one of (if not the) most famous Japanese artists of all time. His best known work is the ukiyo-e woodblock print series ?????? (Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji), published around 1831. The collection includes his single most recognized work, The great wave off Kanagawa.


The great wave off Kanagawa


Hokusai was born in the Musashi province of Edo (now Tokyo) in 1760. The exact date of his birth is somewhat uncertain although it is often said to have been the 23rd day of the 9th month of the 10th year of the H?reki era, which would be the 31st of October in the Gregorian calendar. His adoptive (and likely biological) father was Nakajima Ise, mirror-maker to the shogun. Since Hokusai wasn’t named as his heir – it is sometimes assumed that his mother was a concubine. Hokusai’s childhood name was
????? (Kawamura Tokitar?). He later went by ?? (Tetsuzo), ?????? (Nakajima Hachiemon) and about thirty other (usually quite colorful) noms d'artiste.

Continue reading...