YOSHITOSHI

SPIRIT AND SPECTACLE



Country: USA
City: Philadelphia
Museum/Gallery: Philadelphia Museum of Art
Artist: Yoshitoshi
Year: 1839-1892


April 16–August 18, 2019
PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART

YOSHITOSHI_The-Giant-Twelfth-Century-Warrior-Priest-Benkei-Attacking-Young-Yoshitsune-for-His-Sword-on-the-Gojo-Bridge_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950_W“The Twelfth-Century Warrior-Priest Benkei Attacking Young Yoshitsune for His Sword on the Gojo Bridge,” 1881, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut on three panels (triptych). Mount: 15 1/4 x 29 7/8 inches; Sheet (3 joined printed panels): 14 1/4 x 28 3/8 inches. Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1989. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

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Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), widely-known as the last great master of the traditional Japanese woodcut. Spirit and Spectacle celebrates the full scope of his achievement, tracing his efforts to champion the artistic culture of feudal Japan while addressing the new realities of his modern world.
The exhibition features nearly one hundred works drawn primarily from the museum’s holdings—the largest collection of the artist’s prints outside of his native country

 

A different vision of his work

    Yoshitoshi, in a remarkable display of inventiveness and imagination, re-energized the art of the woodcut before it fell out of favor in Japan. While other exhibitions have often dramatized aspects of Yoshitoshi’s personal life —his bouts with mental illness, his complicated relations with women, and his personal misfortunes— Spirit and Spectacle takes a broader view of the artist’s achievements through the lens of the social and political upheaval that characterized 19th-century Japan and other external factors that shaped his artistic production.

His beginnings 

    The exhibition begins with select examples of Yoshitoshi’s work in the 1860s following his apprenticeship with the master Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861). These prints reveal his mastery of the woodblock technique and his exploration of various conventions ukiyo-e printmaking, or “pictures of the floating world,” through subjects such as historic battles, actor portraits, legends and ghost stories.

    By the mid-19th century, such prints were characterized by exaggerated foreshortening, asymmetry of design, and cropping of figures. As Yoshitoshi honed his technical skills, he also developed his own artistic voice, creating inventive approaches to subject matter that reflected major cultural shifts as the isolationist policies of the shogunate rulers of Edo Japan (1603-1868) gave way to international exchange and modernization under the newly restored Meiji emperor (1868-1912)

HISTORICAL BATTLES
AND MILITARY SCENES

    His triptych General Masakiyo at Shinshū Castle during the Invasion of Korea in 1590, (1863) reflects a growing global awareness; the image of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background is a subtle reference to Japan’s battle with the British at Kagoshima in the year the print was made.

General Masakiyo at Shinshu Castle during the Invasion of Korea in the 1590s
1863 by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi Color woodcut on three panels. Overall: approximately 15 1/2 X 31 1/2 inches.
Gift of Sidney A. Tannenbaum, 1978. Philadelphia Museum of Art


General-Masakiyo-at-Shinshu-Castle-during-the-Invasion-of-Korea-in-the-1590s,-1863by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia Museum of Art_950 W

DETAIL of General Masakiyo at Shinshu Castle during the Invasion of Korea in the 1590s

Detail-a---General-Masakiyo-at-Shinshu-Castle-during-the-Invasion-of-Korea-in-the-1590s,-1863,-by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia Museum of Art_950 W

DETAIL of General Masakiyo at Shinshu Castle during the Invasion of Korea in the 1590s

Detail-b---General-Masakiyo-at-Shinshu-Castle-during-the-Invasion-of-Korea-in-the-1590s,-1863,by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia Museum of Art_950 W


“The Sixteenth-Century General Kobayakawa Takakage Fearlessly Debating Tengu
Dressed as a Priest on Mount Hiko, from the series New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts”

1892, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut. Sheet (ōban tate-e): approximately 15 1/2 × 10 1/2 inches.  Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1989. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The-Sixteenth-Century-General-Kobayakawa-Takakage-Fearlessly-Debating-with-the-Goblin-Priest-on-Mount-Hiko,-from-the-series-Thirty-six-supernatural-beings-in-new-forms_by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_950-W



“Etiquette: The Twelfth-Century Warrior Shigetada on Horseback,
from the series Eight Honorable Ways of Conduct,”
1878, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut on three panels (triptych). Mount: 15 1/4 x 29 7/8 inches;
Sheet (ōban tate-e): approximately 15 1/2 × 10 1/2 inches. Purchased with funds contributed by the
E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1989. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Etiquette-The-Twelfth-Century-Warrior-Shigetada-on-Horseback,-from-the-series-Eight-Elements-of-Water_by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

 

The Suicide of Saigō Takamori
(Saigō Takamori Seppuku no Zu)

The Suicide of Saigō Takamori (Saigō Takamori Seppuku no Zu)1989-47-36b-abeno_by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia Museum of Art_950 W


DETAIL
The Suicide of Saigō Takamori 

Detail-of-The-Suicide-of-Saigo-Takamori--Saigō-Takamori-Seppuku-no-Zu-1989-47-36b-abeno_by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

 

PORTRAITS

“Mist: Actor Ichikawa Sandaji as Hoshikage Tsuchiemon” 
from the series “A Barometer of Emotions”

1876, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut. Sheet (ōban tate-e): approximately 15 1/2 × 10 1/2 inches.  Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1989. Philadelphia Museum of Art

-Mist,-Ichikawa-Sandaji-as-Hoshikage-Tsuchiemon,-from-the-series-A-Barometer-of-Emotions_by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W


“Hazy-Night Moon: A Noh Actor as the Warrior Kamasaka Chōhan” 
from the series “One Hundred Aspects of the Moon”

 by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut. Sheet (ōban tate-e): approximately 15 1/2 × 10 1/2 inches. Purchased with funds
contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1989. Philadelphia Museum of Art

A-Noh-Actor-as-the-Warrior-Kamasaka-Chohan-on-a-Night-with-a-Misty-Moon,-from-the-series-One-Hundred-Aspects-of-the-Moon_by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

 

“The actor Ichikawa Kodanji IV in the role of the Loyal Retainer Torii Matasuke”
1860, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut. Sheet (chūban tate-e): approximately 15 1/2 × 10 1/2 inches.
Gift of Sidney A. Tannenbaum, 1978. Philadelphia Museum of Art

The-actor-Ichikawa-Kodanji-IV-in-the-role-of-the-virtuous-Torii-Matasuke,-1860,-by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia Museum of Art_950 W

 

“Takagi Umanosuke Fearless Before a ‘Ghost’”
from the series Beauty and Valor in the Novel Suikoden,” 1866, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut. Sheet (chūban tate-e):
approximately 9 3/4 x 7 inches. Gift of Sidney A. Tannenbaum, 1978. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Takagi-Umanosuke-Kneeling-by-Huge-Head,-from-the-series-Beauty-and-Valor-in-the-Novel-Suikoden_by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W


Famous soldiers of Japan
by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Philadelphia Museum ofArt

Famous-soldiers-of-Japan-1989-47-66b-abeno_by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

 

GENRE PAINTINGS

I Want to Cancel My Subscription”
(Woman Reading Newspaper)
from the series “A Collection of Desires”
1878, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut. Sheet (ōban tate-e): approximately 15 1/2 × 10 1/2 inches.
Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1989. Philadelphia Museum of Art

I-Want-to-Cancel-My-Subscription;-Woman-Reading-Newspaper,-from-the-series-A-Collection-of-Desires_by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W


FIRE!

    As the population grew and cities became crowded with wooden structures in the late Edo and early Meiji periods, fires occurred frequently. A rare early triptych of a fireman’s parade from 1858 and another of a devastating fire in Tokyo from 1876, as well as a single-sheet print from his series Fireman’s Standards of All Great Districts (1876), among other examples, illustrate Yoshitoshi’s fascination with these contemporary subjects. 

The Great Fire that Began in Sukiyacho on 29 November 1876
and Burned All Night Causing Tremendous Damage. No.1055 from the series The Postal Newspaper

The-Great-Fire-that-Began-in-Sukiyacho-on-29-November-1876-and-Burned-All-Night-Causing-Tremendous-Damage

DETAIL of The Great Fire that Began in Sukiyacho on 29 November 1876

DETAIL_The-Great-Fire-that-Began-in-Sukiyacho-on-29-November-1876-and-Burned-All-Night-Causing-Tremendous-Damage,-No_

THE FIRE BRIGADES
Each brigade is identified with its own banner

1959-35-33a--c-abeno_by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia Museum of Art_950 W


DETAIL
of the fire brigades with their stairs

1959-35-33a--c-abeno-Detail_by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia Museum of Art_950 W

FIREFIGHTER’s EQUIPMENT

“Fireman’s Hood”
late 19th century, artist/maker unknown. Rope-patterned cotton. 24 3/4 inches.
Purchased with funds contributed by Mrs. Howard H. Lewis, 1995. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Fireman-Hood,-late-19th-century,-artistmaker-unknown_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

 

“Fireman’s Coat (Hikeshibanten)”
late 19th century, artist/maker unknown. Painted cotton plain weave with cotton darling stitching (sashiko). 39 3/4 x 46 1/2 inches. 125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with funds contributed by the Otto Haas Charitable Trust, The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Maude de Schauensee, Theodore R. and Barbara B. Aronson, Edna and Stanley C. Tuttleman, The Hamilton Family Foundation, and Maxine and Howard H. Lewis, 2000. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Fireman-Coat-Hikeshibanten,-late-19th-century,-artistmaker-unknown_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

    A section of the exhibition explores how the rapid growth of the newspaper industry in the early 1870s provided new opportunities for Yoshitoshi and renewed his career as a print designer. Beginning in 1873, he produced imaginative designs for The Postal Newspaper, which led to other commissions. Increasing competition from the introduction of photography and lithography to Japan led Yoshitoshi to seek new ways to invigorate the woodblock print.
    He alternated between traditional subjects and styles and a more expressive approach that combined western perspective with energetic lines. In addition, he imbued his prints with vivid colors by using aniline and other inks that became available due to trade.

    A striking example of his application of intensely colored inks is found in the series “Beauties and Seven Daytime Flowers”,1878, which presents beautiful women of the imperial court paired with flowers. Two other prints displayed in this section demonstrate the different approaches Yoshitoshi took in his portrayals of women, from a more traditional ukiyo-e example,”The Courtesan Usugumo Holding a Cat”, 1876 to the modern style reflected in the color woodcut, “Strolling: A Fashionable Married Woman of the Middle Meiji Period (1880s) Dressed in Western Style”, 1888.

Beauties and Seven Daytime Flowers
1878, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi . Philadelphia Museum of Art

Beauties-and-Seven-Daytime-Flowers_ by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi - Philadelphia Museum of Art_950-W

 

The Courtesan Usugumo Holding a Cat 
1876, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi . Philadelphia Museum of Art

The-Courtesan-Usugumo-Holding--by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi---Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W


Strolling:
A Fashionable Married Woman of the Middle Meiji Period (1880s) Dressed in Western Style

1888, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi . Philadelphia Museum of Art

Strolling A Fashionable Married Woman of the Middle Meiji Period-1880s Dressed in Western Style, 1888, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi - Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

HARSH IMAGES

    While the depiction of gruesome subjects had entered the repertoire of Japanese prints earlier in the 19th century, Yoshitoshi gained a reputation for his visceral portrayal of violence, as reflected in selections from his Twenty-Eight Famous Murders with Verse, 1866-67, and One Hundred Warriors, 1868. The latter was his last series before he took a short hiatus from printmaking. This was a period of financial struggle and residual health complications for the artist, one that coincided with a waning market for traditional prints and the social upheaval during the Meiji Restoration.

“Reisei Hangan Takatoyo Dying of Disembowelment,
from the series A Selection of One Hundred Warriors”

1866, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut. Sheet (ōban tate-e): approximately 15 1/2 × 10 1/2 inches.
Gift of Sidney A. Tannenbaum, 1978. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Reisei-Hangan-Takatoyo-Dying-of-Disembowelment,-from-the-series-One-Hundred-Aspects-of-Battle-1866-by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

THE CIVIL WAR

1989-47-33c-abeno_Civil War Japan-by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

1989-47-33b-abeno_ Civil War Japan by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

1989-47-33a-abeno-Civil War Japan-by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

 

POETRY

    The last decade of Yoshitoshi’s life was his most productive and successful. By the early 1880s he had gained financial stability through his newspaper commissions and headed an active studio with loyal students. A new concern for the preservation of Japanese cultural and literary traditions arose in the 1880s, following the rapid modernization of the previous two decades, which created more opportunities for Yoshitoshi. During this time he completed his most celebrated series, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (1885–92). Images of the moon in its many phases provide a common backdrop for the characters in this series.
    Stoic warriors, samurai, everyday townspeople, demons, poets, and courtesans—drawn from Japanese and Chinese history and folklore, literature, and theater—reference stories relating to the moon. The museum holds this complete series, and twenty-four highlights are featured in the final gallery. In these mature works, Yoshitoshi achieved his distinctive aesthetic by combining flat design with a more realistic approach to perspective that conveys suspended moments of action. These dynamic prints made him the most popular artist in Edo (present-day Tokyo) at the time of his death. His passing signaled the end of an era for the genre in Japan. 

“The Heian Poet Yasumasa Playing the Flute by Moonlight,
Subduing the Bandit Yasusuke with His Music”

1883, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut on three panels (triptych). Ōban triptych: 14 1/16 x 28 7/8 inches.  Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1989. Philadelphia Museum of Art

The-Heian-Poet-Yasumasa-Playing-the-Flute-by-Moonlight,-Subduing-the-Bandit-Yasusuke-with-His-Music_by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

DETAIL of “The Heian Poet Yasumasa Playing the Flute by Moonlight, Subduing the Bandit Yasusuke with His Music” 

DETAIL-The-Heian-Poet-Yasumasa-Playing-the-Flute-by-Moonlight,-Subduing-the-Bandit-Yasusuke-with-His-Music_950-W


“Moon after a Snowfall at the Asano River: The Filial Daughter Chikako” 
from the Series “One Hundred Aspects of the Moon,”

1885, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut. Sheet (ōban tate-e): approximately 15 1/2 × 10 1/2 inches. Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1989.  Philadelphia Museum of Art

The-Filial-Daughter-Chikako-and-the-Moon-after-a-Snowfall-at-the-Asano-River,-from-the-Series-One-Hundred-Aspects-of-the-Moon_by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

 

“Ariko no Naishi Weeping”
from the series “One Hundred Aspects of the Moon”

1886, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Color woodcut. Sheet (ōban tate-e): approximately 15 1/2 × 10 1/2 inches. Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1989. Image courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art

Fujiawara-no-Ariko-Weeping-Over-Her-Lute,-from-the-series-One-Hundred-Aspects-of-the-Moon_by-Tsukioka-Yoshitoshi_Philadelphia-Museum-of-Art_950-W

 

Umanosuke preparatory sketch by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Umanosuke, preparatory sketch

 

Shelley LangdaleThe exhibition is organized by Shelley Langdale
The Park Family Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings

Langdale noted: “Over the last ten or so years, there has been a new appreciation, a sort of revisionist history, of Yoshitoshi’s life and work. While he remains best known for his unforgettable scenes of gruesome violence, this exhibition demonstrates the range of his achievement as an innovative image maker. Yoshitoshi’s challenges were not so different from our own: he was a traditionalist who sought ways to advance the cultural heritage and distinctiveness of his native country within an increasingly transnational world. As his work contains many elements that offer a rich dialogue with manga.

TIMOTHY--RUBTimothy Rub,
The museum’s George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, stated:

“This exhibition offers an opportunity to share a truly exceptional, but perhaps lesser known aspect of our collection with the public. While Yoshitoshi was among the finest Japanese artists of his age, he was also a contemporary of the Impressionists, many of whom became inspired by ukiyo-e prints just as the genre began to decline in popularity in Japan. We are delighted to present the artist’s achievements in tandem with an in-depth exploration of Impressionism nearby in the Dorrance Special Exhibitions Galleries, to illuminate the various ways in which artists working at the same time in different parts of the world benefitted from a growing artistic exchange.”

SEE ALSO OTHER JAPANESE ARTISTS:
Jakuchū
KUNIYOSHI vs. KUNISADA


LOANS
Select loans supplementing this presentation of works from the collection have been generously provided by Dr. Robert and Mrs. Linda Rudolph and by the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania.

SPONSOR
This exhibition has been made possible by The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund.

RELATED INSTALLATION
Also on view is Philadelphia Collects Meiji, in galleries 241-243. This display presents selections from the collections of four 19th-century American collectors: Ernest Fenollosa, Mary Harris Morris, Hector Tyndale, and Samuel S. White, all of whom took special interest in Japanese art after witnessing the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia. Their collections span a range of media including ceramics, paintings, scrolls, and pottery. The installation is organized by Dr. Felice Fischer, the Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Senior Curator of East Asian Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

JAPANESE ART AT THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
The collection dates to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, which led to some of the first purchases for the newly established museum—lacquerware, furniture, ceramics, and other decorative arts—from the Japanese exhibitors. The collection grew rapidly in the early 1900s under the leadership of Langdon Warner as museum director and Horace Jayne as curator. The museum has organized significant exhibitions of Japanese art in recent decades, focusing on artists such as Hon’ami Kōetsu (2000), Ike Taiga and Tokuyama Gyokuran (2007), and the Kano family (2015). Currently, we are expanding the collection with traditional and contemporary works of art to create a rich dialogue with tradition.

PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130,  215-763-8100
https://philamuseum.org/