Posted 5 years ago
I have a soft spot for Japanese woodblock prints, and this triptych is a favourite.
The craze for all things Japanese in the mid C19th ushered in the Aesthetic Movement and influenced Art Nouveau.
Then the influence flowed in the opposite direction with the Shin Hanga art movement in early 20th-century Japan being influenced by European Impressionism.
However this triptych is much later and comes from a quite unexpected source. The Garden of the three Friends by Toshi Yoshida was released by Franklin Mint in 1980.
Toshi Yoshida (1911 - 1995) was the son of shin-hanga artist Hiroshi Yoshida, and became a great talent in his own right.
This 3 part limited edition series was commissioned by the Franklin Mint and individually signed, framed in teak and matted in pure silk, on hand-pulled high quality Japanese paper. In 1980 each print cost US$150. The individual framed prints are quite big, each one is 30 x 15.5 inches (76 x 40 cm).
The setting was reputedly Yoshida's own garden, however it is more likely to be an idealised garden from his imagination, as it depicts the "Three Friends of Winter", the pine, bamboo, and plum, with the scene enhanced by the pair of ducks symbolising marital fidelity.
From Wikipedia: The Chinese observed that the pine, bamboo and plum do not wither as the cold days deepen into the winter season unlike many other plants.
Known by them as the Three Friends of Winter, they entered the conventions of East Asian culture. Together they symbolize steadfastness, perseverance, and resilience. They are highly regarded in Confucianism and as such represent the scholar-gentleman's ideal.