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No.38 Dawn inside the Yoshiwara

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Reference » Ukiyo-e »  Artists Biographies

Hiroshi Yoshida 1876-1950

Yoshida Hiroshi was one of the leading figures in the Shin-hanga (New Print) movement. 

Born into the Ueda family in Kurume city in Fukuoka prefecture, his talent in art was discovered at an early age. His art teacher at high school, Yoshida Kisaburo favoured him and in 1888 adopted Hiroshi as a son. In 1893 Hiroshi moved to Kyoto to meet an oil painter Tamura Shoitsu to be trained western paintings. He also has experimented in water colour. Young Hiroshi moved to Tokyo to study further with Koyama Shotaro at Fudosha Private Art School.

Hiroshi was successful from the early stage of his career. He was fortunate to have exhibited his paintings in oil and water colour in both Japan and overseas and to have won numerous art exhibition prizes. Showing his works and receiving awards made him recognised in the art world.

Hiroshi was fond of travelling with the combination of his own projects. In 1899 Hiroshi along with his painter friend, Nakagawa Hachiro (1877-1922) travelled to the US for two men’s water colour exhibition in Detroit and Boston. A few years later, Hiroshi took the initiative in travelling around Europe. In 1903 he went back to the US and submitted his works to the St. Louis World’s Fair, where he received painting awards. Furthermore, his works were seen in New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC, and the artist continued in travelling around Europe and North Africa.

In 1907 Hiroshi married Fujio, who was the third daughter of the Yoshida family. At the same year Hiroshi won the second prize for his painting in Japan and continued receiving awards for two years until he was selected a judge for art competitions.

In 1920, with Watanabe Shozaburo as the publisher, he made his first wood block print depicting the garden of Meiji shrine. It was one of the seven prints he made with Watanabe before the publishing agency was destroyed in the fire following the Great Kanto Earthquake. 

From 1923 to 1925, Hiroshi travelled to the US and Europe, this time with Fujio, painting and selling their works. After coming back from abroad, he started employing carvers and printers and then established his own print workshop. He learned to carve and print and in some cases carved his own blocks while supervising every aspect of the printmaking process. The Jizuri (self-printed) seal is found in the margin of prints which were made under his close supervision. 

Many of Hiroshi's prints were exported and became popular in the West. He was one of the few Shin-hanga artists who signed his works in English. In his later years, he went to Manchuria as a war correspondent. His last print was produced in 1946. His sons, Yoshida Toshi and Yoshida Hodaka, became great artists themselves. 

He was an enthusiastic traveller as well as a passionate climber, and most of his prints depict landscapes from his travels and alpine scenes from his mountaineering excursions. His works of mountain subjects are thought especially highly of. His skills at depicting the flowing of water and reflections on its surface are also remarkable.

 


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