no. 81, Moon of the Red Cliffs
By Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
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Medium: woodcut/woodblock/ukiyo-e, woodblock
Edition size: n/a
Sheet size: 35.2 by 24.1 cm
Price: $650 (excl. taxes)
From the "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon" series, signed Yoshitoshi with artist's seal Taiso, and published by Akiyama Buemon, ca. 1889
oban tate-e 13 7/8 by 9 1/2 in., 35.2 by 24.1 cm
This composition depicts the famous trip of great Chinese poet Su Dongpo (1037-1101) to the Red Cliffs, the site of adventurer Cao Cao's (155-220) great defeat 800 years prior. Su Dongpo, also known as Su Shi, travels with friends down the Yangzi River. One friend plays the lute and composes a simple-minded poem to which Su Dongpo responds by composing one of the most famous poems in Chinese literature.
The boat trip of Su Dongpo became a favorite subject for artists in the early Ming Period (1368-1644), particularly those from the Chinese Zhe School of landscape painting. The Japanese literati or bunjin painters of the Edo Period (1603-1868) were indebted to the Zhe School, with notable painter Tani Buncho (1763-1841) emulating their style and subject matter. Yoshitoshi likely had seen Buncho's work, and composed this landscape under the influence of his jagged brushwork. The balance of this print is also heavily influenced by the literati and Zhe School. The blank space to the right of the cliff balances its grey, irregular lines with a light wash of color.