Mizuno Toshikata

Japanese , 1866 - 1908

Toshikata was born as Mizuno Kumejiro in 1866 in Tokyo, Japan. When he was thirteen years old, his father sent him to the printmaking school of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. He also apprenticed for a time with a ceramic painter and studied traditional Japanese painting with Shibata Hoshu and Watanabe Seitei.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, times had become hard for Japanese printmakers. The people of Japan had lost much of their appreciation for the traditional arts and crafts. The Western modernization of Japan was not limited to industrial technology, as the Japanese administration began sending students to France to learn Western painting and printing techniques. In addition, they welcomed art teachers from England and Italy to teach Western art at the Universities of Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto.

In the late 1890s, the Sino-Japanese War stimulated a short-lived revival of ukiyo printmaking and hundreds of designs were made and quickly sold. Toshikata was among the artists that were able to sell their designs during this short time period. His war prints are thought to be among the best reports of the events of the war. Job opportunities for print artists were, at the time, limited to illustrations for newspapers or for kuchi-e, a kind of soap opera novel read mainly, by women. Toshikata did a little of both- war prints and illustrations, and managed to continue a career as a serious painter and printmaker. In 1887, he took a job as an illustrator for “Yamato shinbun”, a Tokyo newspaper, which gave him stable income.

Toshikata published a number of series of bijin prints and genre scenes, featuring women and children. Sato Shotaro and Akiyama Buemon were two of his main publishers. After the turn of the century, Toshikata remained a well- known painter, printmaker and illustrator.
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