MORI Yoshitoshi online exhibition

2021.01.20(Wed) - 2021.01.31 (Sun)


MORI Yoshitoshi - 森 義利

The Tolman Collection

Online Exhibition 2021 January 20th


Kanjincho Benkei (1985) ed. 30  Frame: 136 x 96 cm

Mori Yoshitoshi (1898-1992) was an ebullient print artist who made works that illustrated the Japan that so many Westerners who arrived in Japan in the 1970s and 80s came to know and love. Some of his works depicted the Japan featured in books - festivals, scenes from Japanese history, the daily life of downtown (shitamachi)--a Japan which expatriates discovered once they settled in Tokyo.

Hannyaji no Shigehira (1972) ed. 50 50 x 69

 Two Clowns B (1960) 43 x 33 cm no editions

I had worked at the Consulate General in Hong Kong and was transferred to Japan with my family.  Henry Steiner, whom I had met as a fellow member of the Yale Club of Hong Kong, wanted us to know some living Japanese artists and provided introductions to Mori, Clifton Karhu and Oda Mayumi.  He had left a good impression with those artists and when I went to call on them they treated me the same way that they would have treated him. I have always been grateful for that helpful start.  For a young Embassy employee it was hard to get to know people, but with Henry’s introduction things went smoothly.

Later; when I left the Foreign Service and began my life as an art dealer Mori Sensei was one of the first people whom I contacted. We got along so well that it made my transition from diplomat to dealer a pleasant one. Mori’s talent was unbelievable and I became his favorite dealer, partly because I bought so many of his compositions and partly because I so enjoyed his many stories.  I had the greatest pleasure of inviting him to the Kabuki to see a play, one of the many on which his prints were based. I then invited him backstage to have lunch with  my friend Tamasaburo, the darling of Kabuki. My connection with Tamasaburo and the intimate luncheon that we shared was enough reason for him to trust me. Staging two major exhibitions at Wako, that smart department store in just the right place on the Ginza lifted him and his standing. 

We have always enjoyed the adv
antage of living in Japan and spending "quality time" with the artists, which meant an access rarely available to other foreigners. Mori lived and worked in a traditional home in Shitamachi; his workplace occupied the second floor of the building and Mrs. Mori and their various helpers had their little corners to work from. The art that Mori brought forth were always joyous compositions that made all viewers want to have their own copy of them, Mori’s pieces sold like hot cakes…as we used to say. Now I am happy to offer examples of his work to readers of this short story of Japanese contemporary prints and hope that everyone will find something to cherish. Please let me know what you think of Mori’s works shown here. They are all in pristine condition, having rested in my archives and are now for sale. 

This is the first chapter in our new gallery plan of sharing something of the people who made the prints as well as the prints themselves.  I hope that you find something without which you cannot do.

Fudomyo - O (1981) ed.50  91 x 70 cm


One of the Five Myo - O Kings is a messenger of Dainichi Nyorai, the cosmic Buddha worshipped by Esoteric Buddhist sects. Fudo's ferocious anger is turned against evildoers; he is "immovable," as meaning of his name suggests, against the various evils in the world.  From his body the fire of great wisdom destroys all obstacles in the path of righteousness. Surrounded by flames, he confronts the unfaithful with a face twisted it in rage and hands armed with weapons and a rope, suggesting his power to menace yet restrain believers from evil. 


Benkei Battling Ushiwakamaruon Gojo Bridge

(1973) ed.50 91 x 72cm


Musashi no Benkei, a colossal monk who had never lost a duel, challenged Ushiwakamaru (Minamoto no Yoshitsune) on Gojo bridge in Kyoto. After his defeat, Benkei became Ushiwakamaru's most faithful retainer. The Print show the episode in the kabuki play Hashi Benkei (Benkei at the Bridge)


Kimpira Taijin (1979) ed. 50  72 x 91 cm


Tales of the fictional hero Kimpira, enjoyed great popularity during the Edo period. Kimpira's chivalrous feats of superhuman strength and violence made him an especially popular and sympathetic figure for downtrodden Edo samurai.


Jealousy (1975) ed.50  52 x 70 cm


Genji's first wife, Aoi, suffered from malign spirits. Although several spirits were transferred to a medium by prayers, one spirit would not be moved and eventually caused Aoi's death. It was rumored that malign spirit was from the jealous soul of the Rokujo Lady whom Genji had had an affair.


Battle at Sea - Funa Arasoi (1987) ed. 70  52 x 70 cm


Defeated by Minamoto no Yoshitsune at the battles of Ichinotani in 1184 and Yashima in March 1185, the Taira (Heike) armies fled west along the Inland Sea to Dannoura, where they met their military annihilation by Yoshitsune on March 24, 1185.

源義経は寿永4 (1185)年2月19日、敗走する平家を急迫、攻めて両軍は合戦を開始。平家は敗れ、瀬戸内海を西走して壇ノ浦へ逃走した。

Kanjincho (1964) ed. 50 75 x 54 cm


Fleeing north from Kyoto to escape capture, Minamoto no Yoshitsune(disguised as a porter) and his chief retainer Benkei (disguised as a mountain priest) are stopped at Akata barrier. When questioned about the purpose of their journey, Benkei pretends to read up subscription list of donors sporting the rebuilding of the temple. The barrier official, Togashi, sees through the hoax but, moved by Benkei's loyalty to Yoshitsune, is inclined to let them through. A suspicious guard questions that identity of Yoshitsune, and Benkei, in a dramatic convincing gesture, strikes Yoshitsune. Once through the barrier, Benkei begs Yoshitsune's forgiveness and, seeing they are safe, makes a dramatic exit of leaps and hops in the aragoto style of acting.


Kanjincho (1967) ed. 100 63 x 69 cm

Muneto and Sadato (1979) ed. 70  51.5 x 70 cm

ステンシル(合羽摺)アーティストとして活躍した森義利 (1898-1992)はその溢れんばかりの才能で海外から訪れた外国人を魅了してきました。特に1970年代、80年代のお祭りや下町の生活風景をモチーフとした作品の数々は、とても親しみのあるものとして有名です。




2021年、ザ・トールマン コレクションの新しい試みとして、私が長きに渡って蒐集してきたコレクションをご紹介したいと思います。その第一弾として、森義利の作品12点をオンラインにてお披露目いたします。作家との歴史を、作品を通して少しでも触れていただけたらと思います。是非、この機会に作品をコレクションの一部に加えてみてください。

ノーマン H. トールマン

1. Attach the completed drawing to stencil paper (Shibugami) with thin adhesive.


2. Sharpen the tip of the stencil knife to be used for cutting the stencils.


3. Cut the drawing so that all the patterns are held together by bridges. Cut out the key impression stencil and the color stencils. 


4. Remove the drawing from stencil.


5. Check the finish of stencils.


6. Wet stencils to make them flexible. Wipe off excess water.


7. Paste stencils, reinforced with silk gauze for thin lines, on paper.


8. Brush on dye-resist paste ot white, unprinted parts of design.



9. Let dye-resist paste dry completely and remove stencil.


10. Brush on colors over stencils. 


11. Check color printing


12. Print key impression stencil with Indian ink.


13. Wash off dye-resist paste.


14. Dry the printed wet paper on a wooden board.


15. Check the finish. Hondcolor any unfinished areas.


16. Sign and stamp the print.



阿部説子(1985) 合羽版 森義利、阿部写真印刷株式会社、 P142 - 144





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