The Courtesan Takao

by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

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The Courtesan Takao by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

Original Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) Japanese Woodblock Print
The Courtesan Takao

100 Aspects of the Moon (Tsuki hyakushi)

One Hundred Aspects of the Moon - Considered his masterwork, Yoshitoshi's series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon features one hundred oban size woodblocks, published between 1885 and 1892. These quiet and reflective prints, beautifully composed and drawn, feature subjects from traditional Japanese and Chinese history and legend, rendered with great sensitivity and emotion. The moon appears in all but a few prints, providing a unifying motif for the series.

Yoshitoshi's innovative designs for the Moon series are often elegantly spare, with simple backgrounds that focus attention on the human figure. He combines the western influences of realism and perspective with qualities from traditional Japanese and Chinese painting, such as the emphasis on calligraphic brushstroke. The figures are carefully drawn with beautiful linework, conveying a real sense of individual character, gesture, and emotion. Special printing techniques such as embossing and burnishing add a sumptuous touch where appropriate, but simple subjects are conveyed in a likewise manner, no less carefully observed.

Prints from the series were released singly or in groups every few months, with the final image completed shortly before Yoshitoshi's death. The series proved tremendously popular, with patrons lining up to purchase the new releases as soon as they became available. Today, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon remains Yoshitoshi's most well-known work, characterized by his artistry, compassion, and sensitivity in portraying the human experience.

The Courtesan Takao - Charming portrait of the courtesan Takao, one of eleven famous courtesans who shared the same name during the 17th and early 18th centuries. Her outer kimono features a colorful tie-dyed leaf and calligraphy pattern popular during the Genroku period (1688-1704), when the Yoshiwara pleasure district of Japan held great interest for the public. The verse at upper right describes the beauty's lover leaving the pleasure quarters in the early morning as she hears a hotogisu, a type of cuckoo, which is associated with loneliness and dawn. The two verses on the background at left read:

A hundred grasses, longing for the summer dawn
- Tare of the Kitazato pleasure house

By the bamboo window sewing a sleeveless robe
- Keikaen

Beautifully detailed with soft shading around the moon. An attractive design.

Artist - Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

Image Size - 12 7/8" x8 3/4" + margins as shown

Condition - A clean print with nice color and detail as shown and full margins. Small repair, a few small spots. Please see photos for details.

The Courtesan Takao by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)
The Courtesan Takao by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)