Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892): Fuzoku sanjuniso (Thirty-two Aspects of Daily Life)

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Lot 3056
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892): Fuzoku sanjuniso (Thirty-two Aspects of Daily Life)

Sold for US$ 20,315 inc. premium
Property from a California Estate
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892): Fuzoku sanjuniso (Thirty-two Aspects of Daily Life)
The complete series of thirty-three oban tate-e, including the contents page and thirty-two half-length portraits of beauties from the Kansei (1789-1801) through early Meiji (1868-1912) eras, each dated Meiji 21 (1888), first edition with three diagonal color areas in the cartouches, published by Tsunashima Kamekichi; the contents page inscribed Hakkomoto Tosendo (published by the Tosen store) with seal Tsunashima, each subsequent sheet signed Yoshitoshi ga with seal Taiso; very good impressions, colors somewhat faded, some with light toning, staining, or restoration.

Footnotes

  • Provenance: purchased in Japan circa 1953-1954

    Note: the Fuzoku sanjuniso is among the most highly prized of Yoshitoshi’s print series. Published late in his career, it represents a retreat from the violence and brutality that marked some of his youthful depictions of women. The series’ half-length portraits represent female subjects across the gamut of contemporary social classes and occupations. In tri-colored cartouches, Yoshitoshi identifies the women in three ways: first as types, as in “heavy,” “observant,” “shy,” or “drowsy;” then by date, covering approximately a hundred years, from the Kansei era (1789-1801) to the early Meiji period (1868-1912); and finally by class, as “waitress,” “housewife,” or “Kyoto geisha.” A typical example reads: urusaso kansei nenkan shojo no fuzoku (Tiresome: the appearance of a virgin of the Kansei era).

    In writing about the Fuzoku sanjuniso John Stevenson describes their subjects as “something of a catalogue of women’s daily occupations in the late Edo period.” (Stevenson 10) Indeed, the artist includes a variety of prosaic, everyday moments: the woman who fans a fire, squinting her eyes to avoid the smoke, or the prostitute shown about to consume a fried shrimp. Although Yoshitoshi’s subjects are occasionally shown at the mercy of a painful treatment, such as tattooing or moxibustion, most of the women appear quite relaxed, as if awaiting a lover, attending to one, or at least open to the possibility of such an encounter. Mildly erotic overtones are generated through suggestive glances, a glimpse of bared breasts or arms, or seductive poses, often tempered by a tasteful allusion to the season or time of day. Several of the designs, blending informal poses with a pervasive sensual languor, reflect Yoshitoshi’s debt to his famous Kansei era predecessor, Utamaro.

    In an unusual move, the publisher, Tsunashima Kamekichi, endorsed the series by adding his personal seal to the contents page. An array of expensive printing techniques was employed throughout the series, setting it apart as a luxury production. Flawless carving was a necessity in light of the elaborately patterned robes and fabrics designed by Yoshitoshi, but the prints were made even more sumptuous through the use of itame mokuhan (imitation woodgrain) for the title cartouches, the extensive use of gauffrage or blind-printing, delicate touches of bokashi (shading), and burnishing. (Metal filings, found in some prints from the first edition, are used only sparingly in the set offered here.) The combination of such luxurious and highly detailed printing with Yoshitoshi’s bold and imaginative designs attest to the continued vitality of the print tradition well into the Meiji period.

    For additional information about the series, see: John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi’s Women. The woodblock print series Fuzoku sanjuniso (University of Washington Press, 1986)
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892): Fuzoku sanjuniso (Thirty-two Aspects of Daily Life)
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892): Fuzoku sanjuniso (Thirty-two Aspects of Daily Life)
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892): Fuzoku sanjuniso (Thirty-two Aspects of Daily Life)
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892): Fuzoku sanjuniso (Thirty-two Aspects of Daily Life)
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892): Fuzoku sanjuniso (Thirty-two Aspects of Daily Life)
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