Hotei Japanese Prints

Fujiwara no Yasumasa Playing the Flute by Moonlight. Triptych.


Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

Japanese colour woodblock triptych.
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839–1892)
Triptych Fujiwara no Yasumasa Playing the Flute by Moonlight, a Painting Shown at the Exhibition for the Advancement of Painting in Autumn 1882 (Meiji jūgo mizunoe uma kishū Kaiga Kyōshinkai shuppinga Fujiwara no Yasumasa gekka fue o moteasobu zu, ōju)
Signed: on left sheet Taiso Yoshitoshi sha.
Seals: Taiso & Yoshitoshi.
Published by Akiyama Buemon, February 12th 1883.

Detail Description

This magnificent triptych by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, grand master of Japanese woodblockprints in the Meiji period (1868-1912), is regarded as the masterpiece from his diverse and extensive oeuvre. It is based on a painting Yoshitoshi made a year earlier for the first exhibition of the 'Promotion of National Painting'. Renowned publisher Akiyama Buemon saw the painting and was so impressed that he asked Yoshitoshi to make a triptych: a resounding success.

The dramatic moonlight scene had been visualised before, but never before so striking. The main figure placed central in the composition, on the middle sheet, while the left sheet has been left completely blank as usual for triptychs from this period. Aristocrat and poet Fujiwara no Yasumasa (958-1036) is completely absorbed in his flute playing, while the bandit Hakamadara Yasusuke is  ready to strike standing just a few inches removed, his hand resting on his scabbard. Enchanted, he stands motionless.

The dark clouds dominate the top of the composition. Here the printing technique atenashi bokashi is used, in which ink is applied on the woodblock or directly on the paper. This copy is an early first state in excellent condition.


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Fujiwara no Yasumasa Playing the Flute by Moonlight. Triptych.


Rapenburg 19
2311 GE Leiden

T 071-5143552
M 06-53769731