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Mizuno Toshikata is one of these hapless artists like Yoshu Chikanobu, Ogata Gekko, Kobayashi Kiyochika or Tomioka Eisen who were born at the wrong time. Traditional ukiyo-e had gone down the drain. And when the new renaissance of Japanese printmaking had set in with Shin Hanga and Sosaku Hanga, they were too old to join the dance party.
First Publication: August 2002
Latest Update: May 2013
Toshikata was born as Mizuno Kumejiro in Tokyo. When he was 13 years old, his father sent him to the printmaking school of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. He was also apprenticed to a ceramic painter. And later he was instructed in traditional Japanese painting by Shibata Hoshu and Watanabe Seitei.
Thus well-trained in all courses of Japanese art, the young artist would step out into the world and create fine art works, become famous, well accepted and would even become a little bit affluent? And when at an age when rheumatism sets in and the hands start to tremble, he would be honored with one or two medals for cultural merits - wouldn't he?
Forget it - nothing but a nice dream in those days.
Times were lousy for Japanese printmakers towards the end of the nineteenth century. The Japanese had lost any appreciation of their traditional arts and crafts. Anything western was iki - cool.
The thrive for modernization after Western patterns was not restricted to industrial technology. The Japanese administration sent students to France to study Western painting and printing techniques and called for art teachers from Italy and England to teach Western art at the Universities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
The Sino-Japanese war of 1894/95 stimulated an intensive, but very short revival of ukiyo-e printmaking. Hundreds of designs were created and sold like hot potatoes. But that was only a last roaring of the old lion before he went to sleep forever. Toshikata Mizuno was among those artists who designed war prints. His prints are among the best and more than just illustrated reports of war events.
The job opportunities for print artists were limited to illustrations for newspapers or for kuchi-e - frontispieces for a kind of soap opera novels read mainly by women. Other jobs were as designers or painters of porcelain or lacquerware in the booming handicraft export business. Other employment opportunities were in the ukiyo-e reproduction business. Main export market was France.
Mizuno Toshikata did a little bit of everything - war prints, illustrations and nevertheless he managed to continue a career as a serious painter and printmaker. In 1887 he was lucky and could get the job formerly held by Yoshitoshi as an illustrator at Yamato shinbun - a Tokyo newspaper. This gave him a stable income.
Mizuno published several series of bijin prints and genre scenes with women and children. Among his publishers were Sato Shotaro and Akiyama Buemon.
After 1900 Mizuno Toshikata was a well-recognized illustrator, painter and printmaker. He became teacher of Kaburagi Kiyokata, Ikeda Shoen and Ikeda Terukata.
529 sold object(s) by Toshikata Mizuno 1866-1908 in our Art Archive
2 signature(s) by Toshikata Mizuno in our Signature Database
Author: Dieter Wanczura
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