Mythological Scene, Japanese-American artist Toshio Aoki, c. 1900


Watercolor measures 22″ x 14″ image size

Signed center right, Framed measures 31″x 23″

Painting & frame are in very good condition!


Toshio Aoki (also sometimes mistakenly called Tershui) (1854, in Yokohama, Japan – 1912, in San Diego, California) was a Japanese American artist and painter who lived and worked in California at the turn of the 20th century.

Aoki found significant success among the American upper class and was known for hosting social events. Guests of his are alleged to have included John D. Rockefeller and J. P. Morgan.

He was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1854. He emigrated to the United States around 1880.

He exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893, and the Art Institute of Chicago gave him a showing in 1924.

The Fine Arts Gallery of San Francisco State University said of him: “Much of Aoki’s early life in Japan is speculation, ranging from artistic pursuits (student of acting, or street artist) to the grand and spectacular (a Samurai opposed to the new Japanese government). . . . [he painted] ‘spontaneous seki’e (‘on the spot’ or ‘before the viewers’ eyes’). He built a reputation as a storyteller, sketching comical figures and eventually landing an illustrating job with the San Francisco Call.”

After moving to Pasadena, Aoki “worked hard to shed his reputation as an amusing character and storyteller and to be taken seriously as an artist. He began to work on ‘Oriental receptions,’ creating an atmosphere of a Japanese masquerade ball.”

He died in San Diego in on June 26, 1912. His works are held by museums including the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.