Yoshitoshi Tsukioka – The Story of Tamiya Botaro

Yoshitoshi Tsukioka
The Story of Tamiya Botaro
Series: New Selections of Eastern Brocade Pictures Japan
color woodblock print
38.0 × 50.0 cm

Good condition with light age-related wear and papery discoloration.


In stock

A rough story hidden in a lovely picture:
“The Story of Tamiya Botaro” by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (Taiso)

The scene in this woodcut print is a well-known revenge tale from the middle ages. Tamiya Ganpachiro has been killed in 1642 by a jealous fencing master, his orphaned child Botaro (on the right side) vows to take revenge on his father’s killer and spends his youth training as a swordsman with the encouragement of his nursemaid Otsuji (seen on the left). At the age of seventeen Botaro avenges his father’s death and Otsuji enters holy orders having vowed to train the child,Botaro.

The influence of European Art Nouveau on the composition of this wonderful woodblock print is unmistakable, even though Yoshitoshi probably never saw any originals of European painting. His master Utagawa Kuniyoshi kept reproductions of European art hidden in a casket thus made it accessible to his students while at the time Japan was still isolated from the outside world. Tsukioka Yoshitoshi was the last and greatest genius of traditional ukiyo-é who was born in the last years of the Tokogawa Shogunate. He lived most of his adult life in the Meiji era of modernisation. He was influenced by Western art and he strove against the loss of traditional Japanese values that made him to devote his life to find a balance between new western influences and the traditional Japanese craftsmanship. His innovations in composition and line, his ability to capture a personality or a moment, are unique in ukiyo-é, and rare in the history of art.

This magnificent work of art was exhibited in our gallery as a part of the “Lee Nevo and Yoshitoshi” exhibition.

See under collection of The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: