An image of Pleasure is this/ to lie cool under the moonflower bower/ the man in his undershirt, the woman in her slip

Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI

(Japan 1839 – 1892)

Pleasure is this/ to lie cool under the moonflower bower/ the man in his undershirt, the woman in her slip, from the series One hundred aspects of the moon

Location
Not on display
Further information

This is an informal setting of a peasant couple relaxing at the end of a hard day, viewing the moon. Their infant son is being suckled in its mother’s arms, while the man is leaning back and singing with a cup and kettle of sake beside him, his garment lightly falling off his shoulder. A beautiful, robustly growing gourd vine called 'yūgao' or ‘moonflower’ frames the scene. A friend of Yoshitoshi, Keika, composed the poem in upper right cartouche which is reflected in the title of this work.

Yoshitoshi’s career straddled two eras – the last years of the Edo period and the first few decades of modern Japan following the Meiji Restoration in 1867. Initially enthusiastic and opened to Western influxes, he became increasingly sceptical about the loss of numerous aspects of traditional Japanese art and culture due to rapid industrialisation and Westernisation. In a time when modern reproductive technologies such as photography and lithography were introduced to Japan and enjoyed high popularity, Yoshitoshi concentrated his efforts in introducing new themes and techniques to the stagnant art of ukiyo-e colour woodblock prints, taking it thus to a new height, before it definitely declined after his death. His highly imaginative, often flamboyant and even disturbing depictions of historical events, warriors, beautiful women and the supernatural has led him to be recognised as the last great master of traditional Japanese woodblock print.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2012.

Place of origin
Japan
Period
Japan: Meiji period 1868–1912
Year
1885-1892
Media
Print
Medium
colour woodblock; ôban
Dimensions
39.0 x 26.0 cm
Signature & date
Signed and dated.
Credit
Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 2012
Accession number
258.2012.88