Yoshitoshi 芳年: The Moon’s Four Strings– Semimaru (Sold)

  • Sold.

Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) 芳年
Title: The Moon's Four Strings–Semimaru
Series: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon: Tsuki hyakushi
Date: 1891

The blind Semimaru plays his lute beneath the full moon, unable to appreciate its poetic beauty, yet lost in the sublimity of his music. Semimaru was a poet and a musician, as well as the protagonist of a Noh play. He lived in the 10th century, and when his master died he retreated alone to a small cottage in the mountains east of Kyoto. Here we see his long, unkempt hair and his look of peaceful concentration. He holds a plectrum in his right hand, and his lute has been meticulously printed. Behind him grow wild grasses and the autumn flowers poke up in the foreground. Everything about this print contributes to a mood of nostalgia and melancholy for the reality of impermanence. This is an unusually early impression, exquisitely printed, with blindprinting (embossing) on the white of the square cartouche. 

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Unbacked.
Dimensions: ôban (35.6 x 24 cm)
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Signature: Yoshitoshi with his seal

Literature: John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (San Francisco: San Francisco Graphic Society, 1992), number 98. See British Museum, Portland Art Museum.