Toshi Yoshida inherited his father's talent as an artist. At first sight his landscape prints look similar to those of his father Hiroshi Yoshida. But when you look at the artist's work again, you will recognize soon that Toshi was more than a continuation of his father's style.
First Publication: November 2001
Latest Update: March 2014
Toshi was born the eldest son of the painter and printmaker Hiroshi Yoshida in 1911 in Tokyo. From an early age he learned the art of printmaking and painting from his father and his mother Fujio - an artist herself. Even his grandfather had worked as an artist. Thus the young Toshi grew up in that perfect environment that has the tendency to bring forth a genius.
Toshi is said to have started drawing at the age of three. And the quality of the child's drawings astonished even his father.
His father was a true cosmopolitan and he educated his children in this sense. When Toshi was nineteen years old, his father took him on a sketching trip to India in 1930 and later to Southeast Asia. Toshi had inherited not only his father's talent but also his passion for traveling.
The artist later wrote about his experience of this trip to India. It was the complete opposite of a leisure trip. During the day his father tried to make as many sketches and oil paintings as possible. And to lose no time, they took the night trains to get from one place to another.
In 1936 Toshi Yoshida stayed in China and Korea. After the end of World War II he travelled all over the world. Even Antarctica was not left out.
During these extended travels, Toshi made sketches for new prints, had exhibitions of his art and lectured about woodblock printmaking at different places in the United States and Europe.
The artist's favorite subjects were landscapes and animals. And as his father did, Toshi transformed many of his impressions from his travels outside Japan into print designs.
Like his father, he liked mountaineering and you can find quite a few mountain landscape prints viewed from a summit.
The artist developed his style over the years. As a rule of thumb, his use of colors and large areas is more daring than in the prints of his father.
After the death of his father in 1950, Toshi experimented for a while in abstract art. The respect for his father had kept Toshi away from trying it earlier. But after a few years he returned to his original realistic style.
In 1980 the artist opened a printmaking school in Nagano Prefecture. It was attended by a mix of international students. Some of his students like Karyn Young, Carol Jessen, Sarah Brayer or Micah Schwaberow later became famous artists and print makers themselves.
Toshi reached the same level of fame as his father did. His works are in the collections of all "big name" museums like the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts or the British Museum.
Toshi's prints are coveted by collectors and art lovers. Fortunately they are not quite as expensive as the prints by his father. For US$250 to US$500 you can get an excellent print by Toshi Yoshida.
Toshi Yoshida prints have been published and printed by the Yoshida Studios established by Toshi's father, Hiroshi Yoshida. The prints available in the market can be categorized by the time when they were printed - during the artist's lifetime versus posthumous printings. Furthermore one can distinguish between limited editions and open editions and between hand-signed and stamped signatures.
At first sight it may be confusing for a beginning collector and newbie. But it is actually crystal-clear and there are to our knowledge no gray areas or controversial opinions and discussions.
Well - let's take a closer look at what you should know about Toshi's signatures, editions and stamps.
During Toshi's lifetime the following print categories were published by Toshi Yoshida through his family's studio:
And finally you find posthumous prints in the market - made after the death of Toshi by his family. These posthumous prints bear only the stamped signature and do not have the embossed seal. Posthumous prints exist both limited and as open editions.
Also the posthumous prints are printed from the original blocks. We have never heard of any re-cuts (newly carved blocks).
The stamped signature is very well done and for a beginner not obviously recognizable as stamped. An experienced art collector or knowledgeable dealer has no problem when he sees the actual print and after having seen several hand-signed prints and a stamped signature for comparison.
The stamped signature (it is a hand stamp) has sharper contours from the impression. And when you have a hand-signed signature that is different in details from the stamped signature, things are clear anyway. But often the original signatures are very similar in form to the stamped one.
Fortunately there is another little helper to identify a posthumous printing of a Toshi Yoshida design. Posthumous prints have a little marking in Japanese characters on verso. The Japanese characters say "Later printing by printer Komatsu Heihachi". (see image)
First of all you should like a print. And then you should ask yourself the question: "Is this print worth the price for me?" If you can answer with yes, buy it.
artelino does not recommend to buy art as a financial investment. If you want to invest your money, you are probably better off with bonds, or the stock market or real estate.
Nevertheless, buying art with one eye on preserving your financial expenditure is legitimate and makes some sense. If the aspect of value is a factor for you, then follow some simple rules:
You may hate us for this remark, but we advise that you do not frame your valuable prints and do not hang them on the wall. Rather put them into a collector's album or folder and store them in a drawer or cabinet as the Japanese used to do. It is still the best and safest way to preserve a mint condition of your print. And condition is paramount if you want to get a good price in the future.
If however your budget is limited and all you want is a beautiful print in a nice frame to decorate the walls of your home, then a posthumous impression is appropriate. It is as beautiful as an early, signed and numbered edition. And it costs considerably less.
But you should be aware that no Sotheby's or Christie's representative will invite you for lunch to discuss an auction consignment of this print with you - not in 10 years and not in 20 years from now.
A few years ago we published a video with a short introduction to Toshi Yoshida.
This is a small selection of several hundred woodblock prints by Toshi Yoshida that you find in our archive for your research - inlcuding prices, detailed descriptions and excellent images.
Author: Dieter Wanczura
Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada, "Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975", published by University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, ISBN 0-8248-1732-X.
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