Mattia Jona La Portantina +39 02 8053315

(1866 - 1908)

Colour woodblock print, vertical ôban, 1890, from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition, designed by various artists and published by Matsuki Heikichi. Signed Toshikata, sealed in red Osai and Toshikata. Very good impression, condition and colour. 350 x 229 mm.
The print portrays the thirteenth-century dispossessed and impoverished daimyo Sano Genzaemon Tsuneyo burning his cherished bonsai to provide warmth to a an itinerant priest, who turns out to be the regent  Tokiyori (1226-1263). The scene is based upon the first scene in the Noh play Hachi no ki (The Potted Trees), by the playwright Zeami (1363-1443).
See here, at the Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints, an in-depth research on the print and its literary sources.

Toshikata studied at the printmaking school of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. He also apprenticed for a time with a ceramic painter and studied traditional Japanese painting with Shibata Hoshu and Watanabe Seitei. In the late 1890s, the Sino-Japanese War stimulated a short-lived revival of ukiyo-e printmaking and hundreds of designs were made and quickly sold. Toshikata was among the artists that were able to sell their designs during this short time period. His war prints are thought to be among the best reports of the events of the war. He also published a number of series of bijin prints and genre scenes. Moreover, Toshikata became an associate member of the Japan Art Academy, led by Okakura Tenshin , and discussed with fellow painters such as Yokoyama Taikan and Hishida Shuns? about producing a new style of Japanese painting. Considering that his line of pupils include Ito Shinsui, it can be said that Toshikata had a considerable impact on Japanese-style paintings of the Taish? and Sh?wa periods.