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Yoshida Tôshi (吉田遠志)

Description:
"Japanese Antelopes in Snow" (Kamoshika to yuki: 羚羊と雪)
Signature:
Toshi Yoshida (in pencil)
Seals:
Artist seal: Yoshida Tôshi (吉田遠志)
Publisher:
Self-printed, self-published by Yoshida Tôshi
Date:
1981
Edition: 131/800
Format:
(H x W)
Double-ôban modern print
55.2 x 40.5 cm
Impression:
Excellent
Condition:
Excellent condition and color, unbacked, pristine
Price (USD/¥):
$1,150 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)

Order/Inquiry: YDT02

Comments:
Background

Tôshi Yoshida (吉田遠志 1911-1995) was the eldest son of Yoshida Hiroshi with whom he studied beginning at the age of fourteen. From 1932 to 1935 Tôshi also studied at the Taiheiyo-Gakai (Pacific Painting Association) which had been co-founded by his father. Before the Pacific War, Tôshi traveled widely with his father in Asia, Europe, Egypt, and the United States. In subsequent years, he continued to travel on his own, especially in Mexico, the United States, Canada, and Africa. He remained in his father's studio until Hiroshi's death in 1950 and ran the studio thereafter.

Yoshida Tôshi, working in the shadow of his rather demanding father, adopted Hiroshi's naturalistic drawing and compositional style up until the elder Yoshida's death in 1950. However, he tended to avoid the complex and painterly effects that were for his father essential elements of print design. By contrast, Tôshi's approach differed in surface appearance, as he frequently printed with brighter colors applied in a more uniform manner. Even so, some of his designs, just like his father's, required many carved blocks and numerous printing stages. He sometimes selected subjects that his father did not embrace, such as views of the sea and wildlife, and it is in these prints that he truly found his own voice. Moreover, soon after his Hiroshi's death, Tôshi's "rebellion" fully emerged as he began making abstract prints in the sôsaku hanga manner without the collaboration of his workshop. Nevertheless, from the early 1960s, he returned to representational art, often on a large scale, doing some of his best work on scenes of wildlife in natural habitats, most notably in Africa.

In 1966, Tôshi and the artist Yuki Rei (1928-2003) published Japanese Print Making: A Handbook of Traditional and Modern Techniques, which was widely influential in the printmaking world. 

For more about this artist, see Yoshida Tôshi Biography.

Note about editions: Lifetime signatures are pencil signed, whereas posthumous printings have stamped signatures. However, very late in his career, when illness and weakness in his writing hand prevented Tôshi from signing, he supervised studio printings and, on impressions he approved, used a printed signature accompanied by an embossed seal. The same applies for both numbered and unlimited editions.

Design

In Tôshi's print, two Japanese antelopes (serow 羚羊 Capricornis crispus) are shown looking up toward the viewer. Serow are found in dense woodland, primarily in northern and central Honshu. Phylogenetically, Capricornis is closer to goats and sheep than cattle, although the nomenclature and status of Capricornis taxa are not completely resolved. In Japan, the serow is widely thought of as a kind of deer, although deer and serows are classified into different families. The older word kamoshika (羚羊) used by Yoshida in his title (left margin) includes the Chinese character for shika ("deer": 羊). Regardless, the animals are a national symbol of Japan and, once nearly extinct, are now subject to protection in conservation areas.

Yoshida Tôshi's wildlife scenes are among his finest works. Situating animals in their natural habitats and capturing their behavior proved to be one of his great observational achievements. Note that the antelopes are positioned within a horizontal swatch of white snow (actually, unprinted paper), whereas the foreground snow and the snow-covered trees in the background are rendered in shades of gray. The result is to gently highlight the antelopes and bring them slightly forward toward the frontal picture plane. The impact of the composition, including its fairly large size, is to place the observer within the scene and induce a feeling of an actual encounter in the wild.

The vast majority of Tôshi's designs were issued in unlimited editions and many are still being printed by the Yoshida Studio (see "note" above). "Japanese Antelopes in Snow" is from a large but limited edition design, one of the few such editions in Tôshi's oeuvre.

Yoshida Tôshi's prints and paintings are in many collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; British Museum, London; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Cincinnati Art Museum; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA; Krakow National Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Minneapolis Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; MOA Museum, Atami, Japan; New York Museum of Modern Art; National Museum of Australia, Canberra; National Museums of Scotland; Paris National Library; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Portland Art Museum; Seattle Museum of Art; Sydney Museum, Australia; Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art; and Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio.

References:

  1. Allen, Laura, et al.: A Japanese Legacy: Four Generations of Yoshida Family Artists. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2002.
  2. Skibbe, Eugene: Yoshida Toshi: Nature, Art, and Peace. Edina, MN: Seascape Publications, 1996.
  3. Yoshida, Toshi & Rei Yuki. Japanese Printmaking, A Handbook of Traditional & Modern Techniques. Rutland, VT & Tokyo: Tuttle, 1966.
There are many books and websites that include information about Yoshida Tôshi, as well as modern Japanese prints. Readers are encouraged to explore these sources of information.