Among the last great ukiyo-e artists of Meiji Japan, Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839–1892) reigned supreme for his daring prints based on various tales and legends of ancient Japan and China. He made use of Western colors and inks for dramatic effect, yet stayed loyal to the woodblock print techniques that had guided past masters. In his short life, he created numerous series exploring a multiplicity of themes related to Japan’s rich history. In Brave Warriors, legendary warriors of Japan come to life to bring honor to themselves and their masters. In One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, exquisitely attired men and women are cast as theatrical players in settings that evoke melancholy, romance, and bravery. Fantastic creatures inhabit his series known as Thirty-Six Ghosts, featuring figures that both frighten and amuse the viewer with their dramatic design.
This exhibition is made possible through a generous gift from Fernàn Franz Steiner, whose donation of his personal collection of prints greatly enhances the BAMPFA holdings of nearly two thousand woodblock prints.