Artist: Migita Toshihide (右田年英)

Alternate names:
Bansuirō (go - 晩翠楼)
Gosai (go - 梧斎)
Ichieisai (go - 一潁 斎)
Migita Toyohiko (family name - 右田豊彦)

Lifetime: 1863 - 1925

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Migita Toshihide was born in 1863 with the name Migita Toyohiko in Oitaken, Shizuoka Province. His father was a Kano school painter. He studied Western-style painting under Kunisawa Shinkurō (1847-1877) and after Shinkurō’s death with Honda Kinkichirō (1850?-1921), before entering the school of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) in Tokyo at the age of 17, from whom he received his art name Toshihide. He studied Japanese-style painting with Watanabe Shotei (1851-1918) and it is reported that he studied ceramic decoration at some point in his life. He designed a wide variety of prints including actor prints, bijin-ga (prints of beautiful women), newspaper illustrations, kuchi-e (illustrations for novels) and senso-e of the Sino-Japanese (1894-1895) and Russo-Japanese (1904-1905) Wars. From 1887, like many of the woodblock artists who were trying to adapt to changes in art and publishing, he worked as an illustrator for books and newspapers, including a long stint with the Asahi shimbun starting in 1897. He was a member of the Nihon Bijutsu Kyokai (Japan Art Association) and Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Art Institute), frequently serving as a juror for these groups. Among his pupils were Ikeda Terukata (1883-1921), Ikeda Shoen (1886-1917), Kaburagi Kiyokata (1878-1972) and Hirezaki Eiho (1881-1968).

While Toshihide is best known for his Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese War prints he produced some beautiful prints of bijin-ga such as Twelve Aspects of Beautiful Women (Bijin junishi), 1901 published by Akiyama Buemon.

Toshide’s Sino-Japanese War prints are untypical in that they do not caricature the Chinese enemy, even the mere foot soldier. Donald Keene writes "Toshihide was the most accomplished of the Sino-Japanese War artists at drawing the human figure, not only in convincingly accurate anatomical terms, but also in such a way to impart special dignity." from "Prints of the Sino-Japanese War," Donald Keene, Impressions of the Front: Woodcuts of the Sino-Japanese War, Shunpei Okamoto, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1983, p. 9.

Sources: Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975 by Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 89; In Battle's Light: Woodblock Prints of Japan's Early Modern Wars, Elizabeth de Sabato Swinton, Worcester Art Museum, 1991, p. 60; Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture, Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada, University of Hawaii Press, 2000, p. 207; A Dictionary of Japanese Artists: Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Prints, Lacquer, Laurance P. Roberts, Weatherhill, 1976, p. 112.