The Moon's Four Strings

by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

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The Moon's Four Strings by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

Original Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) Japanese Woodblock Print
The Moon's Four Strings

100 Aspects of the Moon (Tsuki hyakushi)
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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 Moon's Four Strings - Poignant image of Semimaru, a tenth century blind poet and musician of noble birth whose mastery of the arts and melancholy existence made him a popular subject for theater productions centuries later. He served the son of Emperor Uda, and when his master died, he moved to a cottage in the mountains near Kyoto, living in self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world. Here, he sits on the porch of his rustic hut, strumming a biwa or lute, unable to see the full moon glowing in the evening sky above. A pine tree frames the thatched roof, and autumn grasses and flowers grow about the cottage. A moving subject capturing the loneliness of Semimaru's existence.

Artist - Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

Image Size - 13" x 8 3/4" + margins as shown

Condition - Good detail. Backed with paper. A few faint stains.

The Moon's Four Strings by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)
The Moon's Four Strings by Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

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