“Modern Beauties” (1898)

“Modern Beauties” (1898)
by Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908)
bound book, issued by Akiyama Buemon (Tokyo)
14.15 x 9.25 in., woodblock in on paper
Coppola Collection

Mizuno Toshikata 水野年方
 (artist names): Ōsai 応斉 and Shōsetsu 蔗雪 (used in the artist’s seals)

Toshikata was born Mizuno Kumajirō. When he was about thirteen years old his father, Nonaka Kichigoro, sent him to study with Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892), but his father removed him from Yoshitoshi’s studio and sent him to a relative of his mother to earn his living as a painter of ceramics, instead.

In 1882, however, he returned to Yoshitoshi’s studio. In 1887, on Yoshitoshi’s recommendation, he succeeded Yoshitoshi as the illustrator at the newspaper Yamato shimbun, where he achieved acclaim. During the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), which brought about a brief resurgence of woodblock printmaking, he created a large body of work depicting battle scenes. His work is some of the best to be produced during that period.

As times became difficult for Japanese printmakers due to the introduction of photography and lithography, Toshikata turned toward the design of illustrations for novels (kuchi-e), literary journals, and the design of fashion plates for department stores.

Toshikata published a number of series of bijin prints and genre scenes, featuring women and children, including print sets such as Thirty-six Types of Beauty (Sanjurokkasen), 1891, published by Kokkedio, Modern Beauties (Imayo bijin) 1898-1899 by Akiyama Buemon, and Ancient Beauties (Kodai bijin), 1906-07.

This complete book includes a table of contents describing the 12 images. The English translations on each page were added by someone, at some point. Copies of the unremarked pages from this book are available on line.


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