Hirosaki Castle, from the series “Eight Views of Cherry Blossoms”, originally published in 1935.
Hirosaki Castle (弘前城, Hirosaki-jō) is a hirayama-style Japanese castle constructed in 1611. It was the seat of the Tsugaru clan who ruled over Hirosaki Domain, Mutsu Province, in what is now central Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, Japan. It was also referred to as Takaoka Castle (鷹岡城 or 高岡城, Takaoka-jō). The Tsugaru clan surrendered the castle to the Meiji government; in 1871 the castle was garrisoned by a detachment of the Imperial Japanese Army, and in 1873 the palace structures, martial arts school and most of the castle walls were pulled down. In 1894, the castle properties were donated by the Tsugaru clan to the government for use as a park, which opened to the general public the following year. In 1937, eight structures of the castle received protection from the government as “national treasures”. However, in 1944, during the height of World War II, all of the bronze in the castle, including roof tiles and decorations, were stripped away for use in the war effort.
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in fine condition. Clean margins and verso, jizuri seal in the left margin and pencil signature. Some light toning in the margins and inside the image.
About the Artist
Hiroshi Yoshida (吉田博, September 19, 1876 – April 5, 1950) was a Japanese artist known for his landscape prints and paintings. He was one of the leading figures of the shin-hanga (“new print”) movement, which aimed to revive traditional Japanese printmaking techniques while incorporating modern influences.
Yoshida was born in Kurume, Japan, in 1876. He began his artistic training at a young age, studying under his adoptive father, a painter and calligrapher. He later attended the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, where he studied Western-style painting. Around the age of twenty, he left Kurume to study with Soritsu Tamura in Kyoto, subsequently moving to Tokyo and the tutelage of Shotaro Koyama. Yoshida studied Western-style painting, winning many exhibition prizes and making several trips to the United States, Europe and North Africa selling his watercolors and oil paintings. He played a leading role in the organization of the Meiji Fine Arts Society into the Pacific Painting Association in 1902. While highly successful as an oil painter and watercolor artist, Yoshida turned to woodblock printmaking upon learning of the Western world’s infatuation with ukiyo-e.
In the early 1900s, Yoshida began to focus on printmaking, creating his first woodblock print in 1904. He quickly gained recognition for his prints, which were characterized by their delicate lines and subtle use of color. Yoshida’s prints were also notable for their modern subject matter, which often featured scenes of urban life and travel. Following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, Hiroshi Yoshida embarked on a tour of the United States and Europe, painting and selling his work. When he returned to Japan in 1925, he started his own workshop, specializing in landscapes inspired both by his native country and his travels abroad. Yoshida often worked through the entire process himself: designing the print, carving his own blocks, and printing his work.
Yoshida’s prints gained international recognition in the 1920s and 1930s, when he exhibited his works in the United States and Europe. He also traveled extensively throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, creating sketches and watercolors of his travels. Yoshida’s experiences abroad influenced his artistic style, as he incorporated elements of Western art into his works.
Yoshida often collaborated with his wife, Fujio, and his sons, Toshi and Hodaka, on his prints. The family worked together on all aspects of the printmaking process, from the initial design to the carving of the woodblocks and the printing of the final image. Their collaborative works are characterized by their technical mastery and harmonious compositions. Although he designed his last print in 1946, Yoshida continued to paint with oils and watercolors up until his death in 1950.
Yoshida’s works continue to be celebrated for their technical mastery and artistic vision. His prints and paintings are held in collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. Yoshida’s influence can also be seen in the work of contemporary printmakers who continue to draw inspiration from his innovative techniques and artistic vision.
All of his lifetime prints are signed “Hiroshi Yoshida” in pencil and marked with a jizuri (self-printed) seal outside of the margin. Within the image, most prints are signed “Yoshida” with brush and ink beside a red “Hiroshi” seal. Click to learn more about differentiating types of Hiroshi Yoshida prints and seals.