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An Idiot's Guide:
Collect Like A Connoisseur 

East meets West; Hiroshi Yoshida Western Influence through the Lens of traditional Japanese Printing

Updated: Jan 12

Hiroshi Yoshida was a 20th-century Japanese painter and woodblock printmaker. He is considered one of the leading figures in the revival of Japanese printmaking after the Meiji period in 1912.

Hiroshi Yoshida was born on September 19, 1876, in the Fukuoka Prefecture in Kyushu, southern Japan. He was born Hiroshi Ueda, the second son of Ueda Tsukane, a schoolteacher from an old samurai family. But in 1891, he was adopted by his art teacher, Yoshida Kasaburo, and took his surname.

At age 19, he was sent to Kyoto to study under Tamura Shoryu, a well-known teacher of Western style painting. The following year to Tokyo to join a private school where he also joined the Meiji Fine Arts Society. These institutions were teaching and encouraging Western-style painting following the opening up of Japan in 1868 after 200 years of Shogunate rule.

Yoshida traveled widely his portfolio of designs were taken from famous landmarks executed in traditional Japanese art styling mixed with his training in the West.

The Taj Mahal, Yosemite National Park, and the Grand Canyon are some notable areas he incorporated in his prints.

From 1899 to 1901, Hiroshi Yoshida made the first of many visits to the USA and Europe, where he successfully exhibited, made artistic connections, and sold his watercolors.

His first American exhibition was held at the Detroit Museum of Art (now Detroit Institute of Art). In 1902, Hiroshi co-founded the Taiheiyo-Gakai (Pacific Painting Organization) and his market in the West for his work and went to the USA, Europe, and North Africa in 1903-7 with his stepsister and fellow artist Fujio (the daughter of his adopted father), whom he married on their return. From then until 1920, he concentrated on oils and watercolors in the light and airy style he had learned in the West.

In 1920, Yoshida presented his first woodblock print at the Watanabe Print Workshop, organized by Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885–1962), publisher and advocate of the shin-hanga movement, who was looking for a Western-style artist to create traditional Japanese woodblock prints.

Tragically on September 1, 1923, the great Kanto earthquake brought disaster upon the Yokohama-Tokyo metropolitan area, which almost entirely burned to the ground. With an entire cityscape made almost entirely out of wood, fires were a frequent issue, as it was not the first time uncontained fires had destroyed Tokyo.

Yoshida's house was burned down, along with the original woodblocks and designs he kept. The same fires destroyed almost all Kawase Hasui's initial sketches and paintings and Watanabe Shozuburo's printmaking studio. The original woodblocks of almost every shin hanga artist using Watanabe's studio in and around 1923 went up in smoke, lost to the world.

In the subsequent years following the disaster, Watanabe would loosen his strict policy, which, before the earthquake, limited the number of prints issued in the first edition to no more than 100-200 printings.

Second and third edition numbers varied, depending on the popularity of the design, typically falling between 200-400. As Watanabe and his roster of all-star shin hanga artists began picking up the pieces of their life's work, he was now publishing sometimes 300 prints in the first and even more significant amounts of second and third editions, many of which bear no markings as to edition. Many of his best-selling designs were recarved, with some designs rumored to have been printed as much as ten to twenty thousand times, although no one can know for sure.

Yoshida left for the USA once more to raise funds for himself and others; he toured through the western USA and realized that excellent prints were eagerly sought in North America. On his return, he established his studio and began to produce his designs in print form. From 1925 onwards, Yoshida devoted his career to prints, supervising all aspects of their production and holding very high standards.

In 1931 a series of prints depicting scenes from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Singapore was published.

Six of these were views of the Taj Mahal in different moods and colors. Original Hiroshi Yoshida woodblocks are held by several museums worldwide, including the British Museum, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Harvard Art Collection.

The traditional process of creating Japanese woodblock prints necessitated three strictly separated skills:

the artist who designed the print subject, the carver, and finally, the printer and publisher. In contrast to this traditional approach, the sosaku hanga artist's believed that the process of creating a print - design, caring, printing - should be performed by the artist himself. The prints during this time were sealed with the Jizuri seal -Jizuri meaning self-printed and is meant to showcase the fact that he had a major role in the printing process.

In the Watanabe print shop, painters, carvers, and printers had equal input, with the publisher as the ultimate director. Hiroshi Yoshida believed that the painter, as the initial creator of the design, should have supreme authority and that he, as the painter, should supervise the carvers and printers and, in so doing, direct every step of the production. One of the reasons why he split away from his previous association with the Watanabe Print Shop: was to have complete control of his prints from painting to print. He said he needed more skills than the artisans he supervised to use their talents fully, so he constantly strove to expand his knowledge of woodblock carving and printing techniques.

Hiroshi Yoshida's art fostered an artistic lineage that maintained over four generations of Yoshida's family legacy including two of Hiroshi's sons, Toshi Yoshida 吉田 博 (191,1-1995) & Hodaka Yoshida (1926-1995).

How to identify a Hiroshi Yoshida Signature?

Hiroshi Yoshida's signature can vary regarding impressions or the targeted market. Some print examples feature Japanese signatures with Suma ink. Aside from the graphic design, Hiroshi Yoshida's signature has many uses. In the end, Hiroshi Yoshida's print awaited a demand and signed it. Hiroshi Yoshida prints have varied values ranging from hundreds to hundreds.

What determines the value of Hiroshi Yoshida prints?

Types of artworks and their quality affect the value of the artwork. Several varieties in Hiroshito Yoshida's artwork help identify his creation. Prints with red-colored inscriptions are considered the most precious because they are relatively rare, as most jizuri seals have black and brown stampings.

Japanese Artwork and woodblock prints by Hiroshi Yoshida

Taj Mahal (1932) Hiroshi Yoshida, Morning Mists on Taj Mahal, N°5

Hiroshi Yoshidas Taj Mahal paintings show some images captured by Yoshida during his travels during his career. The bright sun of India offers Yoshida an optimal atmosphere to balance the cool air provided by trees and shadows. Taj Mahal has always stood out in this regard. True to form, the people the artist Hiroshi Yoshida depict wear colorful colors to distinguish their surroundings and give a deeper depth to the environment.

Temple Yard (1935)

The panoramic views of The Temple Yard capture Yoshida's ability to integrate color, shape, and color seamlessly. Cherry blossoms and pink skies contrast with blue shades that create contrast in the background. The temple is in the center, and the bright women's kimonos draw the eye toward the scene. Among his many talents, Yoshida was a gifted photographer. The reflection on the lake is imperfect, so it's easy to imagine the waters being touched.

Pittsburgh (1928)

It measures 14x5 inches. Hiroshi Yoshida also called the evening at Pittsburg. He made these woodblock prints in 1928. Soft skies contrast against deep moody colors on a bridge/boat. A negative space representing a fog can be magnified using a warm, yellow light that illuminates the boat reflecting from its surface. Hiroshi Yoshida, in the Templeyard.

Grand Canyon (1925)

Grand Canyon prints measure 11.5x16 inches. Bright blue and oranges bring dimension into canyons, while deeper blue, green and gray enhance contrast, giving the impression that the sunshine illuminates part.

Mount Rainier (1925)

Among Yoshida's earliest works, this painting portrays the American landscape. The piece measures 15x21 inches and is a larger format for the artist. Yoshito, Taj Mahal number 1.

Kameido Bridge (1927)

Kameido Bridge is part of the 12-part series known as Hiroshi Yoshida's masterpiece. It has 75 prints. Its trademark contrast between pink and blue shades is seen across darker hues.

Other works by the artist:

  • Farm House Noka by Hiroshi Yoshida Jizuri Seal

  • Fujiyama from Okitsu by Hiroshi Yoshida Jizuri Seal

  • Night in Kyoto by Hiroshi Yoshida

  • A Glimpse of Ueno Park by Hiroshi Yoshida Jizuri Seal

  • The Cherry Tree in Kawagoe by Hiroshi Yoshida

  • Omuro by Hiroshi Yoshida

  • Spring Rain at Yozakura by Hiroshi Yoshida Jizuri Seal

  • Plum Gateway by Hiroshi Yoshida Jizuri Seal

  • In a Temple Yard by Hiroshi Yoshida

  • Chion-in Temple Gate by Hiroshi Yoshida

  • Tea House in Azalea Garden by Hiroshi Yoshida Jizuri Seal

  • THREE LITTLE ISLANDS by Hiroshi Yoshida




  • Avenue of Cherry Trees by Hiroshi Yoshida Jizuri SeaL

What is Shin Hanga style?

Shin hanga - a Japanese art movement that integrates Western elements with the traditional Japanese woodblock print. Instead of imitating a Western art style, this movement primarily focused on traditional subjects such as landscapes, beautiful women, and actors' portraits.

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