Lunacy - Unrolling Letters

by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

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Lunacy - Unrolling Letters by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

Original Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) Japanese Woodblock Print
Lunacy - Unrolling Letters

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.

Lunacy - Unrolling Letters - Poignant image of the young servant Ochiyo, who went mad with grief after her lover died. She holds a long love letter from her sweetheart, tattered from unrolling and rereading it so often. The scene reflects the custom of unrolling letters to air them in the seventh month of the year, but Ochiyo became obsessed with his messages, wandering about the city clutching them. The paper spirals off into the sky, taking on a life of its own as she watches it with an expressionless face, her unkempt hair and bare foot attesting to her madness. She stands on Gojo Bridge, the site of the famous duel between Benkei and the young Yoshitsune, the soft gray silhouette providing an atmospheric setting beneath a sliver of a crescent moon peeking above a cloud. A compelling subject, beautifully designed and shaded.

Artist - Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

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

Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Backed with paper. Please see photos for details. Good overall.

Lunacy - Unrolling Letters by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)
Lunacy - Unrolling Letters by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)