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Content Pages from the album One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Content Pages
from the album One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

by Sogaku, 1892

By now you must be near Komakata, a cuckoo calls - Takao from the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

IHL Cat. #78

About This Print

A diptych print displaying the list of prints in the publisher Akiyama Buemon's bound album of all 100 prints of the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon by the artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892).  While Yoshitoshi designed all 100 prints in this series, the design of the table of contents is credited to a calligrapher named Sogaku, most likely Nagai Sogaku 永井素岳 (1852-1915).

The Bound Album 

Source: Yoshitoshi – 100 Phases of the Moon, John Stevenson, Hotei Publishing, Netherlands 2001, p. 69.
The Moon Series was very well received by the print-buying public and Yoshitoshi’s publisher, Akiyama Buemon, decided to preserve the blocks after each design was printed.  The last designs were issued in April, 1892 – Yoshitoshi was hospitalized at this time, and died in June.  Shortly after his death, Akiyama published bound albums of the complete series.  A memorial portrait of Yoshitoshi by his oldest student, Toshikage, was included as a frontispiece to the albums.  The portrait is dated June, 1892.

Akiyama’s albums contained a double-page list of contents, with flowery titles and bright cartouches in the form of fancy shikishi writing paper.  Thee titles do not always correspond to the titles on the prints themselves and are not in chronological order of production.  The album’s content pages bear the interesting date, May, 1892, indicating that Akiyama was already planning to issue albums of the series before the artist’s death.  He almost certainly discussed this with Yoshitoshi, who would  have known that Akiyama was preserving the blocks and who presumably expected to recover from his illness.  Nevertheless, Yoshitoshi did not design the contents pages.  The work of designing these sheets, with their conventional but beautiful silhouettes of flowers and grasses, favorite motifs of Yoshitoshi’s, was left to a calligrapher named Sogaku.

The albums also contained a title page.  Facing the title page in the album was an introduction to the series by Yoshitoshi’s friend, the calligrapher, Keika [Keikaen (Sashima) Keika, 1830-1899)], which bears Keika’s seal, ningen banji.  This preface is dated the eighteenth year of Meiji, 1885, indicating that Keika wrote it when the series was conceived and begun, not for the albums – unless it was backdated.  However, the form it takes, corresponding neatly to the title page for the album, suggests that the block for the preface was carved at the time that the albums were produced.  A translation of the preface follows:

Even Daoist magicians who materialized moonbeams from their pocket were, I hear, obliged to use several hundred strands of rope.  Now Yoshitoshi, a resident of Asakusa in Kokai, has, with absolute freedom, conjured up images of the moon, ancient and modern, from the hairs of his brush, and given them the title “One Hundred Aspects of the Moon.”  The crescent moon on the helmet of a fierce warrior has a terrifying appearance; above the elegant beauty of the woman of Wu, the image of the heavenly horse [the moon] is naturally graceful.  The dexterous skill and ingenious ideas in these images are so splendid and original that, in admiration, the white phoenix under the cassia tree should stop flapping her wings, and the black rabbit that pounds herbal medicine should throw away his pestle.  The owner of the Kokkedio publishing house asked me to write a preface to the series.  Recalling the emotion of Shusei, I found it difficult to refuse, and have come up with a mere inch of introduction to the moon and brushed it on a piece of paper.

Written respectfully in the Hall of Purple Dawn, Nihonbashi, in the eighteenth year of Meiji, at a time when the moon was auspicious.

Image from Publisher's Bound Album (Issued shortly after Yoshitoshi's death)

New York Public Library Digital Gallery

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #78
 Title Content Pages (月百姿もくろく)
 Series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (Tsuki hyaku sugata 月百姿)
 John Stevens Reference No.*
 no reference number but see p. 69 of Stevens' book.
 Sogaku (the calligrapher credited with the design of the Content Pages)
ō shoku? sogaku sho 需嘱 素岳書 (応嘱 素岳書)
書 "sho" - calligraphy
 Seal so? 素? (see above) character in lower seal unread
 Date May 1892 (明治廿五年五月 日)
 Edition content sheet of the album of prints published shortly after Yoshitoshi's death
 Publisher  Akiyama Buemon (秋山 武右衛門)
 Carver Naoyama tō (直山刀)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good;backed with album paper, slight margin trimming not effecting image andslightly impinging on information written in left margin of left sheet,minor wrinkling; two worm holes bottom margin of each sheet
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format oban diptych
 H x W Paper 14 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. (36.2 x 24.8 cm) each sheet
 H x W Image
 13 x 9 1/4 in. (33 x 23.5 cm) each sheet
 Collections This PrintScrippsCollege (Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery) 93.3.82; The New York PublicLibrary Humanities and Social Sciences Library / Spencer CollectionDigital Image ID:1269815 Digital Record ID: 674322; Hagi Uragami Museum(Yamaguchi, Japan) UO1501 and UO1502; Tokyo Metropolitan Library 加4722-1and 加4722-2;  Ritsumeikan University ARC 国会541-00-002 and 国会541-00-003; National Diet Library Call Number 寄別2-2-2-3
 Reference Literature * Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, John Stevenson, Hotei Publishing, Netherlands 2001
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