Yoshitoshi's 'Four Seasons at their Height (Zensei shiki)' (1883-84)


This page attempts to catalog all known prints in Yoshitoshi's series 'Zensei shiki (全盛 四季 - The Four Seasons at their Height)'. Although one would logically expect for there to be four prints in a series with this name, only three are known: Summer, Winter, and Spring.

The series dates from towards the end of Yoshitoshi's career, when he was about forty-four years old. It thus dates from just slightly before his well-known masterpieces such as his great series "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon" (1885-1892), and "New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts" (often called simply "Thirty-Six Ghosts") (1889-1892).

After Yoshitoshi moved to Tokyo's Nezu district in 1880, he began to frequent the fashionable Daishorō brothel. One courtesan there, called Maboroshidayū (Phantom Lady), was a particular favourite of his. In this series, Yoshitoshi featured the Daishorō and Maboroshidayū. (One night, after he performed an unspecified act with her, she presented him with a bill for 100 yen - an enormous sum, one year's salary for him from the newspaper EiriJiyū for his prints for them. It is not known whether this was simply a result of her need for money, or was related to the unspecified act.)

Technical details

Previous cataloguings

The only known attempts to enumerate this series was in Keyes' thesis:
	Roger. S. Keyes, "Courage and Silence: A Study of the Life and
		Color Woodblock Prints of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 1839-1892",
		Cinncinnati, 1982
where it appears as series #458; he listed only three prints in the series. We use the Keyes numbers to order the prints below.

This page (and list) is not necessarily complete; the series is not well documented, and there may be yet other prints which have not yet come to our attention. If you know of any prints from this series which aren't listed here, or have either i) information about any errors on the page, ii) better images than the ones below, or iii) missing information about individual prints (e.g. publisher, exact date), please let us know.

The Prints

To see a larger, roughly full-screen, image of any print, please click on the thumbnail; these images are sized to produce reasonable detail (if we have an original that big), and are fairly compressed.

If we have a higher-quality image, that image can be viewed by clicking on the "Large Image" link, which gives the size of the image (for the benefit of those on slow links). For this series, which consists of triptychs, we provide large images of each individual print in the triptch (in order left, center and right).

Thumbnail Large image Number Date Title (Kanji) Title (Rōmaji) Title (English) Description
#1 1883/9 夏 根津 庄やしき 大松楼 Natsu: Nezu hanayashiki Daishōrō Summer: The Daishōrō 'flower garden' in Nezu The labels identify the four courtesans in the foreground as Kagetsu, Yoneju, Nakagawa and Shingaku; they are taking their ease bathing, with one reading a love letter.
#2 1883/12 冬 根津 庄やしき 大松楼 Fuyu: Nezu hanayashiki Daishōrō Winter: The Daishōrō 'flower garden' in Nezu Maboroshidayū with a snow rabbit; Umematsu is playing the shamisen.
#3 1884/3 春 荏原郡 原村 立春 梅 図 Haru: Ebara-gun Hara-mura risshun ume zu Spring: View of the plums on the first day of spring at Hara Village in the Ebara District

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© Copyright 2010 by J. Noel Chiappa and Jason M. Levine

Last updated: 14/September/2010