Japanese Woodblock Print, 1939, Five prints of a Junk illustrating the printing process, ink and pencil signatures and seals on no. 4 and no.5; and the original explanation sheet describing the printing process
SIZE IN INCHES: each sheet approx. 9.5 x 12.25 inches
HIROSHI YOSHIDA earned a reputation as one of the outstanding Western-style artists in the early period of Japanese modern painting. In the spring of his eighteenth year, he entered Fudosha, the private art school of Koyama Shotaro, in Tokyo. He became a member of Meiji Bijutsukai and, with other artists, later reorganized the society as Taiheiyo Gakai in 1902. He won many prizes in the Bunten, a fine arts exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education, and was appointed a Bunten judge. From the Taisho (1912-26) to early Showa era (1926-89), he actively entered oil and watercolor painting in Ministry of Education sponsored shows.
Yoshida, however, was also a color woodblock print maker who made a notable contribution in the history of Japanese modern prints. Yoshida should be evaluated as one of the most important artists of the shin hanga (modern print) movement that began in early Taisho to revive and modernize ukiyo-e, the traditional woodblock prints of Japan. Although, strictly speaking, Yoshida's prints are not sosaku-hanga, they are very much self-created and self-printed (jizuri) works of art. To ensure high craftsmanship standards, Yoshida believed that in each state of printmaking he had to be more skilled than the artisans he employed and directly supervised. Sometimes he carved the blocks for his prints; at other times he combined pigments for color shades and tones that were difficult to create. To enhance the effect of shadows and three-dimensional depth, he used a special block called a nezumiban (gray color block). Yoshida pushed woodblock printing to a new level of excellence through the time consuming efforts he made to exactly reproduce subtle nuances of composition in his paintings in woodblock prints.