Yamamato Shōun (山本昇雲) (artist 12/30/1870 – 05/10/1965)

Shōkoku ( as an illustrator for lithographs - 松谷)
Shōsai ( - 昇斎(?))
Yamamoto Mosaburō (family name - 山本茂三郎)
Matsutani Shōun (松谷昇雲)



The progression away from subjects of idealized star entertainers and enlightened ladies of the Meiji court to less glamorized women engated in everyday life or as protagonists in melodramatic literary roles was pushed further by such print artists as Ikeda Shōen (1886-1917), Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908), and Yamamoto Shōun (1870-1965). These were among the transitional artists whose work prefigured that of shin-hanga. They made real changes to the style of nishiki-e prints and book illustrations, expanding the space, reducing the dependence on line and dense design, and relaxing the traditional conventions for facial features and costumes in favor of softer, more naturalistic images..."

Quoted from: Shin-hanga: New Prints in Modern Japan, Hollis Goodall-Cristante, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1996, p. 26.


"Born in what is today a part of Nankoku City. Studied under Tosa painters Yanagimoto Toso and Kawada Shoryo, and after temporarily working in Osaka, went to Tokyo in 1888 to study under nanga painter Taki Katei. He instantly gained fame with his illustrations in the magazines "Fuzokugaho" and "Tokyomeishozue" under the alias Shokoku, and while continuing to work as a news illustrator, at the end of the Meiji era he created numerous series of multicolored woodcut prints following the "division of labor" tradition that had been carried on since the Edo period. In addition to exhibiting Japanese-style paintings at the Bun-ten exhibition by sponsored by Ministry of Education, he was also active as a member of the Doyo Bijutsukai. He is primarily known for his skilled depictions of pretty, modern females."

Quoted from the Museum of Art, Kochi online.


In an Andon 41 article from June 1992, on page 19, Setsuko Abe referred to Shōun's first teacher as Yanagimoto Dōso who taught him in the Kanō style of painting. We believe the kanji may read 柳本洞素. "At the age of ten he became a pupil of Kawada Shōryū [河田小龍] and at this time he received his artist's name of Shōsai. He left Kōchi prefecture for Osaka when he was seventeen; however, as he was unsuccessful in earning a living as a decorator of export porcelain, he moved to the capital, Tokyo. Through his work as a designer for porcelain he became acquainted with the Nanga (literati) master Taki Katei (1830-1901) [滝和亭]; thereafter, he became Katei's pupil. He supported himself by decorating porcelain and by designing rings, copper, silver, and gold utensils for the watch-seller Tenshōdō and for the department store Mitsukoshi. When he was twenty-five, Mosaburō came across an advertisement in the Fūzoku gahō [風俗画報] requesting new contributors for articles and illustrations. He contributed an illustration of Tosa no kuni saotome, which depicted the Nagahama mud festival. This illustration attracted the attention of the editor-in-chief of the magazine and it was immediately published in the June issue of Meiji 21 (1894). This was the debut of the news illustrator, Shōkoku. Concurrently, he became a staff member of the department of illustration for Tōyōdō, where he remained employed until the first year of Taishō (1912). Meanwhile, he continued to contribute work to Fūzoku gahō, whích accompanied news items or which served as visual documentation." (Ibid., pp. 19-20)