Hiroaki Takahashi (also known as Shotei) (1871–1945, Japanese) was born in Tokyo, his given name Matsumoto Katsutaro. He was adopted by the Takahashi family and was soon apprenticed to his uncle to learn painting, and it was his uncle who gave him the name Shotei (pine cottage). In 1889, he helped found the Japanese Youth Painting Society. During his early years, he produced wood block prints for magazines, and in 1907 he was discovered and recruited by Watanabe Shozaburo to help produce Ukiyoe wood block prints which had become popular in the West.
Up until the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, Shotei produced more than 500 prints. Unfortunately, Watanabe’s workshop and prints were totally destroyed due to the fires after the earthquake. So, Shotei, now using the name Hiroaki (wide open spaces), worked to recreate many of them. As is the case for most great artists, Shotei also liked cats and captured them in several of his woodblock prints. His cats are depicted as playful and, of course, associated with women and sex.
For the rest of his life he would continue to produce woodblock prints until his death in 1945, and he is now known as one of the greatest shin hanga artists. It is claimed that he was killed at Hiroshima, where he was visiting his daughter, but according to family records, he died of pneumonia.