Japanese Painting and National Identity

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Japanese Painting and National Identity

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Japanese Painting and National Identity Okakura Tenshin and His Circle


This book was financed in part through a

generous grant from the Scholarship Support Program University of Massaehussetts Boston.

Center for Japanese Studies The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, IDD4

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Copyright IE 2004 The Regents of the University of Michigan All rights reserved


1'1/’:.:,i Published by the Center for Japanese Studies. The University of Michigan,

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202 S. Thayer St., Ann Arbor, MI 4Sl[l4-I605

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Libnlry of Congress Cataloging~in-Publication Data ‘Weston. Victoria. Japanese painting and national identity : Olralnrra Tensbin and his circle I ‘fictoria Weston

p. cm. — [Michigan monograph series in Japanese studies ; 45} Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN l-929230-IT-3 (cloth r allt. paperl l. Painting, Japanese. 2. Oltaltura. Kakuad, I362-i9l3—Criticism and interpretation l. Title. II. Series. NDHJSD .W47 2004 ?59.952'fl".-J'D34—dc2l


Book design by City Desktop Productions This book was set in Times. This publication meets the ANSIJNISCI Standards for Permanence of Paper for Publications and Documents in Libraries and Archives {Z3'9.4S—l9'E-'2}. Printed in the United States of America






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For my husband, Kenji

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Preface Introduction Chapter Cine:

Model for an Art Movement: Emest Fenollosa and

Dkakura Kakuso in the 1880s Chapter Two:

Roads to An School: Public Education and Painting Studios

Chapter Three:

The Tokyo School of Fine Arts under Ultalrura Kakuzo

Chapter Four:

Competitive Exhibitions and Historical Painting

Chapter Five:

Group Identity and Innovative Style: Mfirdrui

Chapter Sis:

The Japan Art Institute and Foreign Contacts

Chapter Seven:

Return to the Cultural Fold


Bibliography Index









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PLATES Hashimoto Craltfi, White Clouds, Red Leaves {Hakaun ktiju), 1390, hanging

scroll. Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Yokoyama Taikan, Viifage Children Watching Monkey and Master (Sandi? ican ‘en 5), 1893, hanging scroll, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Shimomura Kanzan, Yaya at Kiyorniza (Kiyamizu Yuya), 1894, hanging

scroll, Tokyo National University of Fine Ans and Music. Hishida Shunso, Widow and Orphan (Kufi: to icoji}, 1895, hanging scroil, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Shirnomura Kanzan, The Death of Tsaganobu (Tsagnnaba saigo), 139?,

hanging scroll. Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Kobori Tomoto, Tsuneniasah Visit to Chikubujirna (Tstaternasa lltei Chikubujirna), 1396, hanging scroll, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and

Music. Shimomura Kanaan, Birth ofrhe Buddha (Bur.-nrmn nil. I896, hanging scroll, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Saigo Kogetsu, Spring Warrnth (Shandan], lS9'J, hanging scroil, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Hishida Shunso, Mirror of Water [Minn kagamf), 1897, hanging scroll. Tokyo

National University of Fine Arts and Music.





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Yokoyanra Taikan, Qu Yuan (Kutrugen), lS9S, hanging scroll, Itsukushima Shrine. Shimomura Kanzan, Cremation of the Buddha (Jyai), i393, hanging scroll,

Yokohama Museum of Art. Yokoyarna Taikan, High Tide and Rising Sun (Kyokujirru doto), l9D2, hanging scroll, Yokoyama Tail-tan Kinenkan. Hishida Shunsfi, Mumshino, I893, hanging scroll, Museum of Modern Art,

Toyarna. Yokoyama Taikan, Rape Leaves {No no ho), hanging scroll, private collection. Shimonrura Kanaan. Mount Horai—Sun {Nichi, Tsuki Horai—san), llilillll, hanging scroll, Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. Yokoyarna Taikan, Mount Horai—il-foon (Nichi, Tsmlci Horai-ran), 1900, hanging scroll, Shiauoka Prefectural Museum of Art. Shimomura l{anzan,De1»v at Ohara {Uhara no truyu}, 1900, hanging scroll, Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki. Yokoyama Taikan, Itltii or Indian Guardian Figure (Judo shugojin), hang-

ing scroll, ca. I903, private collection. Yokoyama Taikan, Fuji San, l9ll-4, hanging scroll, private collection. Yokoyama Taikan, The Sea, 191115, hanging scroll, Museum of Fine Arts,

Boston. Hishida Shunsir, Seashore in Morning Sun {Kaihen choyri), 1904 or l9[l5, hanging scroll, Frrkui Fine Arts Museum. Saigd Kogetsu, Tairvan Scenery (Taiwan fukeij, hanging scroll, Yarnatane

Museum of Art. Shimomura Kanaan, hnperiai Visit to Ohara (Ohara goko), handscroll, details, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Kimura Buzan, Gta and Ginyo, hanging scroll, Eisei Hunko Muse-um. Yokoyarna Taikan, Floating Lamps (uyaro), I909, hanging scroll, Museum

of Modem Art, Ibaraki. Hishida Shunsh, Fallen Leaves (Ochiba), 1909, pair of sis-fold screens, Eisei Bunko Museum. Shinromura Kanaan, Autumn in the Woods (Kn no ma no aki}, l'5'lJ'I", pair of two-fold screens, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.




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FIGURES l. Asai Chi], Harvest (Shtikaku), 1390, oil on canvas,

Tokyo 1"~lational University of Fine Arts and Music. 2. Kano Roi, Taoist immortals and Zen Masters, one of a pair of six-fold screens, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 3. Tosn Mitsunobu, attrih., Tale of Genji, album leaf,

Sackler Museum. Harvard University Art Museums. 4. Dgata Karin. Scenic View of Matsushitna. six—l'old screen, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 5. Ike Taiga, Nachi Waterfall, ca. 17705, hanging scroll, Tokyo National Museum. 6. Mori Sosen, Apes. Deer: and Pines, one from a pair of hanging scrolls, Tokyo National Museum. T-". Eugene Delacroix, Liirerty Leading the People, oil on canvas, Louvre Museum. 3. Kano Hfigai, Crags {Ganseki), 1837, hanging scroll,

Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. 9. Hashirnoto Gahfii, Landscape (-Siansui}. I392, hanging scroll, Tokyo National Museum. 10. Kawabata Gyokusho, Flock offlucks in Snow . (Setchti guno), hanging scroll, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. ll. Kose Shoseki Shotolcu Taishi (Shotoku Taishi so}, 1392, hanging scroll, Tokyo National Museum. 12. Moral: anti Vase (Rakan) ringa model,

Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. 13. Shimomura Kanaan, ringo exercise, Tenslrin Memorial Museum of Art, lbaraki. 14. Yokoyarna Taikan, Vitnaiaicirti anti Artenriant, ringa exercise, Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki. 15. Hishida Shunso, Monk and Vase {Rakan) ringa exercise, Shunso-kai Collection. 16. Shimomura Kanzarr, Furoshiki sharei exercise, Tenshin Memorial Museum of Art, Ibaraki.

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Yokoyarna Taikan, Furoshiki shasei exercise, 9'?

Tenshin Memorial Museum of Art, Ibaraki. Hishida Shunso, Autumn Landscape (Shuitei sansui),

1893, hanging scroll, Tokyo National University of Pine Arts and Music.


Hishida Shunsfi, Small Bird on a Branch (Gornishi ni icotoril, hanging scroll, Shunsfi-kai Collection.


Hishida Shunsfi, Warrior's Accouterments (Bugu),

1894, hanging scroll. Shunso-kai Collection.


ttoooo, “Front View of the Ho-o-den," 1393, Chicago World‘s Colombian Exposition.


Kawabata Gyokushfi, Toy Peddler (Kanrohin gyosho},

1392, hanging scroll, Tokyo National Museum.


Hoods, “Interior of Left Wing," Kose Shtiseki.


Hfiodo, “Library in Right Wing of the Ho—o—den," Kawabata Gyokusho.


Hoods, "Central Hall: The Jodan-no-ma," I-Iashirnoto Gahfi.


H6665. “Central Hall: The Kon-no-ma,“ student fan paintings.


Hishida Shunso, Smile of Recognition at a Flower (Nenge tnishyo). 1397, hanging scroll, Tokyo National Museum.


Yokoyama Taikan, Listening to the Sermon {c'ti.-no),

1897, hanging scroll, not extant.


Yokoyarna Taikan, Selfless (Marga), 139?. hanging scroll, Tokyo National Museum.


Saigo Kogetsu, Parting of.S'u Wu and Li Ling (Sort lcetsulretsu), 1398, hanging scroll, not extant.


Saigo Kogetsu, Flock of Wild Ducks under the Moon (Gelclca guno), hanging scroll, Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum.


Hishida Shunso, Parting of Su Wu and Li Ling [Sori ketsulretsu), 1901. hanging scroll, private collection.





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33. Saigo Kogetsu. Talrasago, 1900. hanging scroll, not extant.


34. Yokoyarna Taikan, Mu Lon [.ll»fokuran}, I900, 191

hanging scroll, not extant. 35. Kohori Tomoto, Spring Dawn {Shunsho), 1900,

hanging scroll, not extant.


36. Yokoyama Taikan, Spring Dawn [Shunsno], 1900. 195

hanging scroll, not extant. 3?. Hishida Shunsfi, Spring Dawn [Shunsho), 1900,

hanging scroll, not extant.


33. Shirnomura Kanzan, Traveling in Summer

(Kajitsu koryo}. hanging scroll. not extant.


39. Hishida Shunso, Traveling in Summer {Kajitsu lcoryo), hanging scroll, not extant.


40. Yokoyama Taikan, Traveling in Summer

(Kajitsu koryo}. hanging scroll, not extant.


41. Saigo Kogetsu, Traveling in Summer (Kajitsu koryu), 200

hanging scroll, not extant. 42. Kimura Buzan, Traveling in Summer {Kajitsu lcoryo), hanging scroll, not extant.


43. Shimornura Kanzan, Spring Dawn (Slrunsho), 1900,

hanging scroll. not extant.


44. Yokoyama Taikan, I900, Autumn Wind (Aki hare}, hanging scroll, not extant.


45. Yokoyama Taikan, I902, Moonlit Sea (Tsuici umi),

hanging scroll. not extant.


46. Kuroda Seiki. Korenohara (Grez-sur-Lotus). 1891, oil on canvas, Tokyo Institute, Independarrt Administrative

Institution. National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.


47. Yokoyarna Taikan, Floating Lamps (Rfiytol. 1903. hanging scmll, not extant.


48. Shimomura Kanzan, Diogenes, 1904, hanging scroll, British Museum.


49. Shimomura Kanxan, Fudo My-oo. ca. 1904. hanging scroll. Yarnatane Museum of Art.







Yokoyama Taikan. Spring Showers. 1904. hanging scroll, private collection.


Hishida Shunso, Forest in Evening (Yu no mori}, ca. 1904, hanging scroll, Iida City Art Museum.


Yokoyama Taikan, The Sea--ll-foonlight (Umi—tsuki akari), 1904 or I905, hanging scroll, Fukui Fine Arts Museum.


Saigti Kogetsu, Distant View ofMt. Fuji {Fuji-san enbo),

ca. 1906, hanging scroll, Iida City Art Museum.

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This book is my contribution to remedying several pressing needs in the field of Japanese art history. Studies in both Japanese and English have

long tended to favor formal analysis, but cultural context allows us to understand the meanings imbedded in the making and reception of works of art. Much of my education was focused on the stylistic analysis of paintings, from

which I gained a good visual memory and a strong appreciation for the object. At the same time, though, I felt that I was missing much of the meaning invested in art works. My dissertation on the painter Yokoyama Taikan (1868-1958) precipitated a crisis, as I found myself unable to write a compelling overview of his work using principally the tools of stylistic analysis. I began there a tentative redirection of my approach to one that was more interdisciplinary. As readers of this book will quickly discover, I continue to do close formal analysis because ultimately it is the work of art I wish to

understand, but pressing beyond formal analysis allows us to learn something about why and how works of art speak to a moment in history. My second goal here was to contribute a substantial study of an impor-

tant group of artists. Again, this is a product of my own confusion. My Master’s thesis was a very inadequate study of the works of Taisho-period (1912-24) painter Imarnura Shiko. As much as I looked at his paintings, I

could not work out why they looked as they did. There was almost nothing to read in English because American scholars preferred “traditional” Japan-

ese art, thus taking me only to 1868 or so. In my halting Japanese, I read references to ShikEr’s stylistic debt to Yokoyanra Taikan, but I couldn't fathom how. I realized that Taishfi painting would remain impenetrable until I came

to terms with Meiji, another topic for which there was no English-language




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literature. I offer here a book I could have used as a graduate student: one which, I hope, addresses major figures and issues and puts them into an illurninating cultural framework. At the same time I have sought to present a study of sufficient depth and detail to be of use to established scholars. The figures I treat here are among the giants of Japanese cultural history. so I must inevitably limit myself if I am to address their work across a span of time.

Let this be an invitation to more focused inquiry into the rich cultural legacy of Meiji.

This book has been long in the making, with its origins in my dissertation and its development in many related projects. Let me first acknowledge the sustained support of the Yokoyama Tail-zan Kinenkan, Tokyo. I began snrdying Tail-:an‘s work there in I939 as a very green doctoral student. They

welcomed my interest and facilitated my research with letters of support and liberal access to their collections. I was twice affiliated widr this institution, first during my dissertation research and again when I expanded the project to the book herein. Mr. Yokoyama Takashi has been endlessly kind, Mr. hlagao Masanobu and Mr. Dchi Tsuneyuki both tireless sources of information, and Mr. Nomoto Atsushi a congenial colleague. I am deeply grateful to the many museums and collectors whose works appear in this volume. The Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku has been especially generous in its support. The university's museum has repeatedly granted me liberal access to art works and has been especially helpful with reproductions for this book. Many Japanese scholars have shared with me their views and information, particularly Professor Sato Doshin of Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku.

Fujimoto Yoko of Ibaragi-ken Kindai Bijutsukan, and Matsuura Akiko, chief editor of the Nihon Bifutsuin hyalcunen shi.

In the United States, I fnst wish to thank my dissertation advisor, Paul Berry. Paul’s encyclopedic knowledge of Japan and his sensitivity to images ofiered me my first model for how to integrate formal analysis into a rich

social, political, and cultural context. Martha McClintock provided much needed friendship and advice during a research year in Tokyo, and later helped me finish collecting reproductions and copyright permissions from Japanese museums. Julia Meech graciously read the first draft of this book, offering much constructive criticism. My Ulvlass Boston colleague Nancy

Stieber so perfectly crystallized the weaknesses of the second draft as to provoke a sudden enlightenment-like reaction on my part. Naomi Noble Richard provided essential editorial advice in the writing of this "book, and she kept

me from saying several very stupid things. Finally, l wish to thank the anonymous reviewers of this book, whose criticism helped me strengthen the stmcture of the book as well as specific arguments. Over the years, my work has been supported by a number of grants and fellowships. A Samuel A. Kress Foundation grant first got me to Tokyo. The


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HE Fulbright program allowed me to complete research on my dissertation. The Japan Foundation funded the research year in Tokyo leading to this book. The University of Massachusetts Boston provided assistance twice: a Healey Endowment grant in support of my research and a Scholarship Support Pro-

gram grant to help defray the publication costs of this book. Finally, I wish to thank my husband, Dr. Kenji Hayao. A specialist in Japanese polities, he has directed me to sources on political history, accompanied me on research trips, and offered helpful comments on a vast range of subjects. Today, as I write this, I have leamed that I have been awarded tenure at the University of Massachusetts Boston. That I should accomplish

this and have a book in production is thanks to Kenji’s sustaining support. All translations from Japanese language sources are my own unless otherwise noted. All images appearing in this book are reproduced with the kind

permission of their owners. Victoria Weston Boston, lvlassachusetts. May I, 2002




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This book concerns visual and verbal rhetoric. In the late 13305, the

bureaucrat and art critic Ctkalrura Tenshin (Kakuzo; 1362-1913) took over effective leadership of a movement dedicated to establishing the kind of painting that would express, nurture, and augment the national identity of con-

temporary Japan. In Cll-zal-:ura’s hands, the movement further aimed at creating govemment entities dedicated to promoting art as a national cultural asset. Specifically, the movement espoused Japanese art, especially painting, against the imported styles of the West. This movement further worked to somehow “modernize” traditional Japenese art, which many viewed as outmoded.

Okakura sought a complex balance between preserving pre-Meiji schools of painting and adapting them to changing Japanese tastes. At heart, Okakura endeavored to lead a movement that would make painting with a cultural iden-

tity at once urmtistakably Japanese and unquestionably modern. Kitazawa Noriaki, in his ground-breaking study, Me no shindea, discusses the “systemir.ation" of art during the second decade of the Meiji period {l368—l9l2).' Kitazawa examines the roles of two key figures in the Meiji art world. the oil painter Takahashi Yuichi (1823-'94) and the American educator a.|1d critic Ernest Fenollosa (1853-19[l3). Whereas Talrahashi worked to create a public role for oil painting, that is, to make oil painting the visual concomitant to the government's Westernization programs, Fenollosa urged

innovation within the bounds of tradition so as to preserve Japan’s cultural patrimony. Kitazawa credits Fenollosa with structuring govemment-supported policies that resulted in the ascendance of pre-Meiji schools of painting and

the near total eclipse of oil painting during the 18805. Ernest Fenollosa and I. I‘-iitaaawa Noriaki, Me no shinu'en.' jr-ryd-shi noto (Tokyo: Bijutsu Shuppansha, I939}.


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his role in the course of Japanese art history is a hotly contested subject} but one of his clearest contributions is as progenitor of a painting movement

that was then led during the 1890s and after by his disciple Clkalcura Tenshin. Situating art squarely in the public arena was a strategy that D1-talrura utilized to propel his own initiatives in painting.

Dkaltura devoted his career to shaping a Japanese national identity that would galvanize patriotism at home and inspire respect abroad. His specific field of endeavor was the world of art, but his concems were fundamentally political and social. His writings reveal a man preoccupied with Japan's place in the intemational world order, then dominated by the Westem industrial powers. He championed Japanese culture and art as assets worthy of the highest international appreciation, precisely by virtue of their distinctly “national” Japanese character. He argued for state support of the arts through the cre-

ation of institutions—art schools, museums~—-but not for state control of art. His cormnitment to the individual creative spirit rings through his written work; indeed, he identified the investment of the artist’s spirit in his work

as one of the strengths of Japanese art. Clltalrura‘s preoccupation with the problem of cultural identity responded to a world revolutionized by nationalism. Nationalism transfomred nineteenthcentury Europe; increasingly, culture-based, language-based ethnic collectives recast the concept of “country” as the modern nation-state. I use the word “nationalism” as Ernest Gelhrer has defmed it—that it is a “political principle. which holds that the political and the national unit should be cong;tuent.”3 The problem of nationalism—which groups naturally constitute a “national-

ity” and which do not-—strikes at the very meaning of cultural identity. ln the nineteenth century, the problem was compounded by the growth of colonial empires, itr which ethnic, cultural, and language differences served to rein-

force perceptions of difference and hierarchy. Competition for empire likewise sharpened the sense of cultural rivalry among the colonizing nations. It was into this arena of intense diplomatic and cultural contest that Japan emerged from its self-imposed centuries of international isolation. Its isolation had not been total; indeed, trade relations with the Dutch and Chi-

nese had introduced products and ideas that became part of the fabric of Tokugawa-period (1615-1868) life.“ But Japan*s diplomatic ties with other nations were e:-ttremely limited, and by rnid-century, a whole host of Western nations

were suddenly demanding trade and treaties. In 1368, the first year of the reign of the Meiji emperor. Japan was a collective of feudal domains. To the Japanese of that time, their “country” (krrni) was their domain (hon) and not 2. For erample. see Ellen Conant in t'tr'i!ronga.' Tronrcending the Port (SI. Louis: St. Louis A11 Museum. I995).

3. See Ernest G»:-i|net', Nations and Nationalism (Cornell: Eomell University Press, lilflill. p. 14. See for example. Timon Screech, The llestera $ct'ear{,fic Gaze and Popular imagery in Later Eda Japan: the Lear Within the Heart (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, l€'r9'6}.


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the group of islands that constitute modern Japan. Cllrakura and other Japanese intellectuals strove to create a sense of collectivity, an “imagined community,” in Benedict Anderson's phrase, on a national, not regional, 1evel.5 A sense of nationality was a prerequisite for successful competition with Western powers. Okalrura used both words and images, as constructed by his

painter disciples and colleagues, to foster an idealized and communal understanding of this new Japanese national identity. Like Dltaltura’s own efforts, this study will focus on painting and on

Dkakura as mentor to a generation of Japanese painters whose work gave fonn to his ideas. Trained by Okakura to see themselves as servants of the nation, Shimomura Kanzan (1873-1930), Yokoyarna Taikan (1868-1958), and 1-Iishida Shunso (18?4-1911) believed that they had to make painting that promoted the public good. In one very real sense. they were the first makers of nihonga, or “Japanese painting.” That term had been coined to distinguish established Japanese schools of painting from imported Western-based oil painting. For t)kakura’s circle, rriharrga became the artistic equivalent of the national unit, Japan. In their nihonga virtually every existing school of Japanese painting could be absorbed and conuningled to fonn a national conception of “traditional” painting. In the established social structure of Japanese

painting, painters were generally members of a particular school, one which at least in concept had definable stylistic attributes and a lineage of leaders stemming from a founder. In reality, Japanese painting had thrived from a

great deal of stylistic hybridity, but Dltakura and his followers accepted the concept of schools with diverse definitions, histories, and structures, and then went on to assert that collectively these schools constituted nihanga. To recast Gellner*s definition of nationalism, their nihongc held that the national unit, Japan, and its art must be congruent. These painters drew from almost

all schools of Japanese painting, past and present, to make Meiji rtihongo. To be sure, Meiji-period painters outside Dltaltura’s orbit purposefully explored Japan's stylistic heritage, but Ukakura made such exploration part

of an artistic curriculum designed to generate self-consciously national painting. Kitazawa Norial-ti names Olcakura‘s group the kokusat-ho, the “national essence” school of painting, and in so doing identifies them according to their most characteristic feature. RI-IETORIC

To understand rrihonga, we must examine its philosophical foundations as

embodied in the problematic figure of Okakura Tenshin. His focus on art as an instrument and expression of national identity suited the polemical 5. Benedict Anderson, Jar-agr'nert' Communities.‘ Refier'rt'oro' on the Urigrlrt and Spread of Nan}.-noh'.rm {London and New ‘fork: ‘Verso, 1891}.

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atmosphere of the late nineteenth century. In support of Japan's right to be treated as an equal by Western powers, he championed the quality and longevity of Japanese culture. His most sustained arguments appear in books in English proclaiming pan-Asian ideals. OI-t.akura‘s Pan-Asianism asserted an idealized commonality among Asian cultures, which he broadly characterized as peaceful, communal, and spiritual. His Asia represented half of a Hegelian model, in which Asia formed the thesis to be favorably contrasted with the anti-thesis of the industrialized, militarized West. Radicalized by Westem imperialism, Japanese thinkers. Okakura included, worked to develop a concept of Japanese culture that might help Japan weather that challenge, its “national” character intact. The principal goal of this study is to examine how Dkal-rura’s rhetoric guided, shaped, and informed the making of paintings expressive of this goal. Kanzan and Taikan led the Tokyo art world until the end of their careers, Taikan in particular functioning within a matrix of ideas shaped by this kind of Meiji nationalism. That painting should somehow express national identity, that it be recognizably “Japanese,” is a Meiji

legacy that continues to animate ideas about painting even today. At the heart of Elkakurais work are many paradoxes: He wrote passionately on preserving Japanese cultural identity, yet the rhetorical struc-

ture for his ideas was Westem. He was at once a “preservationist” and a “progressive.” Japanese painting had to retain its “unique” cultural identity, yet painters required the freedom to explore any potential source of inspiration, even if it came from the West. In Tailcan's words, “art has no national borders.”“ ln'lplicit—and sometimes explicit—in Dkakura's work

is his acceptance of a theater of debate that centered on the West. Whether addressing Japanese authorities, the Japanese public, or Westem audiences, Ukakura fixed his conception of Japanese art within an internationalist structure of aesthetics and politics. Ukakura‘s belief that Japan needed an identifiably national painting was itself a response to Japan‘s newly international circumstances. Okakura embodied the complexities of the new Meiji social order. By the time of his birth in 1862. his father, of low-ranking samurai family, had became a silk merchant in the bustling trade town of Yokohama.“ Like patti-

archs of other former samurai families, Dkakura’s father believed fliat to ti. "fa-ltoyanta Taikan, Tflfhlflfl jiden, ed. ltiubota lnayoshi [Tolryo: ltifidarrsha, I981 [l9‘5l]], p. T8. T. See F. G. 1*-lotehelfer, “On Idealism and Realism in the Thought of Dkakura Tenshin,” Joarrtaf of.Japonese Studies, vol. 115, no. 2 (summer I990]: 3l2—i§‘, for a much fuller account of Dltakutas youth

and education and the questions surrounding specific aspects of this biography. lt is not certain, for instance, that his family was, in fact, of samurai nmk, nor whether ()kalrura‘s father took up the silk business at daimyo request. The biographical literature on Dkakura is voluminous and includes: Oltalturs ltlaztto, Chichi O-Edit-trrl (Tokyo: Seibuttkaku, 1939]: Saitfi Ryfizft, flkakum Trn.thr'n (Tokyo: ‘foshikawa iliobunkan, 196(1): Shimomura Eiji, Tenshin to scno sholran tTokyo: Nikken Shoppinsha, I964}; and many others.








achieve success in Meiji Japan, his son needed a Westem-style educations Fred Notehelfer and others emphasise that D1-calrura’s early education was conducted almost entirely in English under the tutelage of American missionaries, whence came his facility with the English language and his later ability to deal smoothly with Western elites. His study of Japanese and Chinese classics began only later; Notehelfer argues that, as a result, Okakura “suffered inversely from an inferiority complex toward Japan, the Japanese

language, and the Japanese portion of his identity."9 Certainly, this unusual educational background illustrates Meiji tensions inherent to a Westerniaalion process that promised pragmatic, technical advances while at the salne

time challenging cultural identity. Oltal-rura’s thinking stemmed directly from experiences as aide-de-camp to Ernest Fenollosa, whom he met at the new Tokyo Imperial University (est.

ISTF). Dkakura entered the school in 187?: Fenollosa, one of many hired foreign experts, joined the faculty in 1373.") Newly graduated from Harvard

University, Fenollosa taught philosophy and political economy, basing his ideas on Hegelian philosophy and Spenceiian conceptions of evolution. Rnollosa also had amateur training in oil painting, and in that regard he

sought out Taltahashi Yuichi shortly after arriving in Japan. Soon, however, his interest shifted to traditional Japanese art, perhaps inspired by his colleague on the university faculty, the painter Kano Tomonobu (I843-I912). ll

Dkakura studied under Fenollosa, first writing a thesis in politics, then writing a new one on the topic of art. Tokyo Imperial University was the premier institution grooming young men for service in government; Dltaltura’s initial thesis topic suggests his future ambitions. His new topic ultimately indicated the direction of his career. In 1380, at the age of nineteen, Dlcaktlra B. l will return to this topic in Chapter Two, where l discuss the early careers of the painters who worked with Dltakura.

9. See F. G. I"-lotehelfer, “Du Idealism and Realism," p. 316. ltl. -Du Emest Fenollosa and other foreigners hired to teach at the Imperial University, see: Conant, Nilsongo, pp. 23-14; and Conant, "Principles and Pragmatism: The Yatoi in the Field Ufi'!lI1I,“ in Foreign Employees in Nineteenth-Century Japan, ed. Edward R. Beauchamp and Altira Iiiye [Boul-

der: Westview Press, I990], pp. l55—l5'i‘. More generally on Fenollosa, see also: van Wye]: Brooks, Fenollosa and His Circle {New York: E.P. Dutton, l9l5): Lawrence Chisholm, Fenollo.ro.- The For Eost and American Culture {New Haven: Yale University Press, I963}; Walter W. lvluir. Mu.-.-sum ofFirie Arts, Boston: .4 Cerrreiu-tiol Hinory, vol. l (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Bellmap Press, 1970); Said Ddahin in Nikon Biiursuin hyohinen shi, ed. lvlatsunra Akiko, (Tokyo: Otsuka Ilifigeisha, I939], vol. IA, pp. 441-Tl’. Seiichi "I'amaguchi‘s “Fenollosa: A Bibliography,“ Joumoi q,F.5-laitonio University, vol. ll] (I9?-ti}: l~—31l-, is a very useful, concise chronology ofFeno1losa's

activities and publications. "i"amaguchi points out that Fenollosa wu hired to teach politics but agreed to teach philosophy and political economy. His fomial background in philosophy consisted only of some college coursesll. Tomonobu actually taught in the preparatory school of the university, Tlflltyd [laigaku ‘fobirnon, where he was likely engaged to teach Western-style mechanical drawing- His principal work was in Kandschool painting.








graduated and entered service with the Ministry of Education. By 1881 he was working in the division charged with the development of specialised

schools, a purview that included art education.“ His minimal qualifications notwithstanding, Fenollosa gained acceptance in Japan as an “authority” on Japanese art, and it was he who taught Dkakura how to lead an art movement. Fenollosa created the persona of ar't expert by building a substantial private collection, then using his background in philosophy and oil painting to develop theories on art education and on die util-

ity of art to the nation. Trading on his prestige as a foreign “expert” teaching at the Tokyo Imperial University, be elicited invitations to lecture to elite Japanese. In concert with Okakura and other Japanese he helped found the private art organization Kangakai {Painting Appreciation Society) in i384. He transformed his career, moving from the university to the Ministry of Education’s Art Bureau, where he worked to abolish Western-style drawing instruction in public schools in favor of Japanese brush painting and to build a national art infrastructure by founding art schools and museums. By putting Fenollosa into contact with painters making serious art, the Karrgakai enabled him to develop and refine his ideas and at the same time to propagate them among working artists. It was a reciprocal relationship: Fenollosa’s strongly

partisan interests supported Kangakai’s largely Kano-school membership, while the painters there experimented with his ideas concerning style and sub-

ject matter. His art-related activities were manifold, and fully devoted to a unified agenda. In this, he b-ecame one of a new breed: the full-time promoter. The path that Fenollosa blazed, Dkakura followed, first in govemment service, then as leader of private art-support organizations. In pre-Meiji Japan, some schools of painting had had nonartist advocates. in the Tokugawa period, the Kano school of painters disseminated its ideas through slu-

dio training and published texts; it was a huge organization, and one that substantially advanced its members‘ fortunes. Literati painters, who practiced a style of painting derived from that of Chinese scholar-painters, were part

of a larger social matrix of sinophile scholars.“ But full-time, dedicated promoters, such as Fenollosa and Dkakura, were a new phenomenon for the painters working in Tokyo. The artists who trained with them, and then who

later formed the arts group Nihon Bijutsu-in {Japan Art Institute) under Okakura’s leadership, enjoyed sustained, full-time promotional support,

which was critical to their success. Fenollosa, like many Westemers, believed in art as a necessary adjunct to the project of nation-building. In speeches made during die l3B[ls, Fenollosa urged the Japanese government to create national art infrastructure: l2. Okakura Kakuzd, Okokum Tenshin ,:enshil.' Beilslron (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1930}, pp. 3??-Bl. l3. I give a brief overview of schools of painting in the next section.


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national museums, national art education, and juried exhibitions. Great nations needed great “national art" to compete in world commodity markets and to project the appropriate aura of high culture. To structure a place for his agenda—i.e., for his own definition of great Japanese art—I-lenollosa pur-

posefully essentialiaed the Japanese art world into three distinct camps: those who proposed jettisoning all traditional painting in favor of Western-style oil painting fydgo); those who cleaved to the traditional schools and resisted any

sort of change; and those who sought growth within tradition. He considered the last to be following the proper course for Japanese art, and himself the natural leader. The durability of this structure shows in Okakura's own adaptation of it, which he utilized throughout the Meiji period to serve the continuing needs of the group he championed. One result of their skillful rhetoric has been the persistence of this tripartite model. Despite significant setbacks and both men*s short-term access to actual power, their presentation of the Meiji art world and its issues drrives

to the present day. The history of Meiji nadition-based painting is commonly presented as the story of the Fenollosa-Ukalrura school, which perpetuates the notion that modern painting was bom in the Kangakai. But this version

of Meiji art history, which attests to the power of Okakura‘s and Fenollosa’s ideas, is by no means the only possible interpretation. Part of my purpose in this book is to examine the mechanisms through which Hsnollosa’s and Ctkal-:ura’s ideas achieved the status of common knowledge, Instead of seeing Fenollosa and Dkakura as the progenitors of a new national art, we might best recognize that “since this was already developing, they unnecessarily polarized [the Japanese art community], and thereby impeded, the very goals they sought to advattce.""l' As Ellen Conant’s work has helped to make

clear, imiovation is itself a hallmark of Meiji painting; Dlcakura and Fenollosa did not originate or own the idea of a new national painting, though the polemics they fomented tended to disguise that fact. Okakura’s school was but one of

many groups engaged with the protean possibilities of Meiji: it was not the fims at origo of modem Japanese painting. But the idea of a “national art," one consciously made and promoted as such, and of an entire school of painting founded for the express purpose of making “national art," may fairly be associated with Fenollosa and Okakura. Certainly other Meiji painters engaged the concept, but

few were so single-rninded as Clkakura and his circle. Fenollosa established a model, one freighted with Westem theoretical baggage; Dkakura manipulated the model and the program to suit his own goals but retained Western ideas about

national prestige, painting, and civic duty. Begimring with primary-school drawing education, their programs addressed the entire development of the painter, from earliest training to maturity, thereby potentially shaping the future of I4. See Conant, Nihongo, p. I4.

Clo. glc

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Japanese painting. Though the results fell short of their intentions, these were extraordinary goals and pmgrams. The adversarial models used by Fenollosa and other critics color how we understand the terms nihongn and yoga. Literally, nihnngn means “Japanese pictures," but the term has been imbued with nationalist cormotations, and

its import, both in Meiji and after, has been keenly debated in print and symposia.“ In pre-Meiji criticism, the initial criterion of stylistic identity was, roughly, geographic origin, thus yornnto-e to denote a school of Japanese ori-

gins, korn-e for one of Chinese origin. This distinction was a gross simplification; neither ynntnro-e or knrn-e was purely one thing or the other, but the terms described actual paintings well enough to allow artists and critics

to establish basic stylistic boundaries.“ With Meiji, the powerful presence of Westem oil painting, yoga, changed the binary construct to one that differentiated yoga from not-yogn—the latter comprising all the schools of painting active in Japan at the time of yogn’s birth. Chinese-based or Japanese, all were nihongn by virtue of being not Westem in derivation. The terms ynnrnro-e and knrn-e are generally diagnostics used by art critics to organize Japanese art history; they do not typically carry serious political connotations. Yoga and nihongn, however, and particularly nihongn, are powerfully laden

with meaning far beyond formal style. By linking art with nationalism, Fenollosa and Okakura contributed to the charging of terms that in themselvesin their literal senses—were neutral.


Western-style oil painting was the new force in the Meiji-period art world. Tokugawa-period artists had experimented with a form of home-grown oil

painting, but these did not grow into a major school of painting. Oil painting was born again with the Westemiaing programs of the Meiji era, when the acquisition of Western technologies included the principles and practices

of Western depiction (fig. 1). Deemed a useful skill, Westem-style threeI 5-- In Japanese, see Saki Ddshin in “Nikon no oiiutsu " tonjo.' kinrini Niiron no "korobo" to senryo.|hi (Tn-lryo: Kfidansha, i996} and lfitazawa, Me no sirinden. l.n English, see Paul Bcn'y in l'v‘[oriolta Michiyo and Paul Berry, eds,. Modern M'n.rt‘er.r of Kyoto.‘ The Tmrsrfbmtnrion of Japanese Painting Tradition:

(Seattle; University of Washington Press, 1999}. The August 1999 international symposium at the Seattle Art Museum, organized around the exhibition of modern Kyoto paintings from the Griffith and Patricia Way collation, included several papers addressing aspects of this problem- John Resenfield explored characteristics of rriihongo in his keynote address; Satd Dfishin and Paul Berry spoke to its definition. and Griffilh Way explained how he tried to exclude the use of the wold in titling the exhibition catalogue. Mr. Way lost. The full title is: Modern Masters d Kyoto: The Trnnsjbrrnorion of Japanese Pointing Trnd'ition.t. Ninongn from tire Gr.rfl'itir and Prn’r|'r'io l-lihy Collection. lb. These are contentious terms, their meaning much debated. For example, see lvliyelto Murase, Eur-nki:

Nnrrnriv.-_= Scrrrilsfrom Japan {New ‘fork: The Asia Society, 19153]; Louisa McDonald Read, The Meiruline and Feminine Mrrdes q|"Heirim Secular Pointing and Their Relationship to Chinese Painting-


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dirrtensimral drawing was included in Meiji primary-school curricula. was introduced into military colleges, and hecarrre the basis for paintings in oils that were made and purchased to adurrr new Western-style arclrilecurre. For private patrons, oil painting embodied lh: new progressive spirit of Meiji. with its errrhrranc of innovation in all aspects of life.

Mury schools u! tradition-based painting were active irr the mid-Meiji period when Dknkura began to Shape his ideas about a new national painlirtg, The growth of urban centers irr the Tokugawa period hid fostered a bur-

geonirrg of painting schools, most or them morzd in Kyoto." By the early Meiji period. Tokyo was coming to rival Kyoto as a principal rrr center and ltntne I0 Japan‘: leading painters. otrrrkrrrrr and his students were Tokyo painters, and they sought to lead Japanese painting [mm the narion‘s politi-

cal capital. but they faced real competition from marry prominent painters in Kyoto, Japan’: capital of culture.

Figure r. Aur cm. Hurrnr r.nrrrrrrrrr_ lE90,mlo1rca|rvln Courtesy olTolyo Nulrorrnl Universtiry of Fine Am Ind Mrrnc. A Nrdt/lrrrrrrnt -1 Ynnral1>e tPn.D. Duevurrrrr. Sulrlovtl Urtnenrly. um». lerurgrr Strbum, Painting VI the Yulramiltlr, rr-irr, lohrr M Smehh rim Vort anrl rum Wellltmrll/Herlvtrruhtr. mm. Ind Okudnrl HI&).Nur1u|r\r 'lt’VIVY .\rmlIr.rnm and arlarrnndlvy Fltulherh |:r\(im1:nIu|u4N¢t~ vrrrr and Tokyo WarIr¢rtrrllIShrhuIn‘|n. l91\l.np the |n|nhlM‘>rmnnh1rrm r7 arr r lrrller aaurrrt Hf Fbprna! prrrrlrng win!) ..¢_ [N uarrtpltu Rrrelope Mann. A Hrxlurr ../ Japarrlre/(VI [New Ynnk Alsrlrrs. rmr.







Trnditirrrr-based painting, even offl: rrrid-Meiji period, can be usefully defined by Tokugawa-period school r-runs. m school rurnes “Rinpa," “Shijt7." “btrnjinp." -rim" rrrri “Kalb” oonrirrrred In describe youpa of artists practicing pnirnirrg styles wlrmeclunelerislics derived from estahlinlredr Tokugawa-puiod definitions. The pointers rtiwusred in rirrr book derived ultimately from the rcrrrir school, one of rrprrrr largest Toktrgawa-period painting nrglniuliorrs. rrrrirrr comprised a guup ofelire lrzlien, primarily irr F410 (Inter Tokyo) but with regional satellites tlrmrr|lro1rt the country (nu. 2). ln theory, irr defining stylistic failure Wu r Chinese Sung-dynasty iurivai irrk painting chnncwriud by lrrirnued line ilnwirr; rrrri sol‘! irrk wuher. During the Tokugawa pa-irrit. Krrro painters catered to the samuni elite. the rrrcrr ernirrertl urrong them winning the position of painters-inmllerrdrlrrce to the shogurule rrra the dlirrryn. Trairrnd to produce carrorrionlly correct Kanbstyle painting, but irr pumice remarkably versatile. they were essentially cnurr painterxwlwprnduwdwwkinnwidenngeofslylsmaoconrnrodalellreir patrons‘ tastes. Whereas Kanb was forerrron rr school of ink-based painting, some of its most famous rrwrtrbets rrrri their disciples fnlltrvlnd rnore sumpnrous directions, augmenting ink line and wash with gold-leafed backgrounds and rich opaque colors. arty Meiji-period rtyi>s. This Iwll Wls lIlIClIl'0I\l§llClll)‘ constructed with fixed thfiji Wall plnels. slid-

ing ihaji pinels. nriii pipeied ii-niisniiis, or hr which were i.i-enieii ns inriiees for yflfllfllfl-2 Style Plllllillgi. Ill original wiiriii by ltiise Shéseki. in addition, Shoseki mud: one copy of: fllllous work; this WIS the LlIit\$eIllh-

century hanging scroll Nnchi Whrerjizll, because it was attributed (anachro-

Ilisllclllyl to Kose loniiirii (ICI. 9th-l0Ih c.). stiiisem inisiie iiiieeitin." ln the Ashikagl suite. Klwlbllfl oyiilinihis piintea /HJMMB Wlll pinels.

rniiiie 21 Honda, “llrltriur of reri wins.“ Kuw slr-mi Ph..n III! ».,.i.i.. rims olillll iiiii YIIIIQHIWH Tlltl. sits rriirye iaiiisnirix WM!) pl IMI







hanging smolls, including n “study” 01 1 Sesslul painting, nna pninlings for Ilse archilecmnl elenuenls (fig. 24).“ The Tokugawa section was A

larger. mom complicated space. can painted most of the fonnal shoin

audience hall, which Wis filld with I riisnd plllform (jfidnn) accented

by a mm display alcove (mknnmnn). Slaggcled shelves (ungnunnn). bllilbin dtsk (Isuke-Jllvifl). Ind dzconlivz doors (fhfidaigamat) (fig. Z5).

On me min jfidan wall Gun painted n gm: pin: and clouds and on the fusuma panels mm luwergednn. paired phoenixes. Kanb Tomonobu conlrihuled um; rhfidaigamae paintings, calllposcd nr blskals oi flnwars nna mm. All of mm were slmngly colored, formal Knno works app/roprille for Sllch n spice. oynknsu is um: -5 painting plums and nlshes in lhe hallway, pmsullubly on the nevus: sides of lhc/uxunln. Gyokusib. smm. and can wen lssixled by snxdenls in uh: painting pmgmn. who Iheruby benefiled fivm the kind of lppmnliceship =npm=n¢= common no mzir sludio-lrlilmd bvzuuen. For me Tokugawa suilz. nudenu

Figm: 2|. “Library III mm Wm‘ nc um Ha-0-dzn." Kzwahqnz aynmna. Ruin» ylph vuunny mm An |nnnnn= nIChK'I5o. so 11¢ |r|Iu$\k1~>ns pimlded n. (X:l\I:'x "m Moo-qku (Hhznix nun. An u|-.\n=nn| Dtnauflmn Mlhe Bluldunlj Sunni by n. |||p|rmCn1v:IlI|xI 1 -n= mu’; cn|n|nn|.n an|,nnnnn.1.=n. |n||Pl|LC||x1‘n‘I:|rmhl2ymuyIIy|h|n|ulx1|n|:|ficin|I|k||Iyk


n. ,;=51;;,l?.?¢. W


Chapter nree

Frgun zs. l-H1040."fcnlnlHlll.Th:l0d1n~|\o»I|u."l>lash|n\0lnGalfi Pmmgmph raunchy of Th: An lnxnlulc nr cineqn

also supplied works of lhcir nwn. srnaenrs nre lisled as makers of me puinlingx on rne ceiling illfl. rnnre imponanlly. as contributors hf fan painlings used In dewnle Ill: Walls 01 the two sid: mums. 2 study and a small

blnquzl room (fig. 25>. These painted folding fans were affixed lo fuxuma on which a stream had heen painlcdz nrey were arranged over lh: slrcnm as

if flnaling wilh lhe cunlnl. The individual Inns allowed far many student

painters In conlribule original works. and ii allowed rhe teachers lo eliminnre inferior works and thus govern the quality oflh: whnle. Olukum, whn W701: I.l\c zxplnnzlory pnrnph|er describing llw 1-man. lisls 105 fan painlings, credizing each no us rtspefclive maker. rrrosr of whom were senior slu-

dents enrolled in rhe advanced painling nregnnn.“ From lh: mos! advanced class, fiv: of lhc :igh\ members conlribulcd works. including Taikan, who mud: five fans. Shimomura Kanun. a selneslcr behind Taikan, mud: twentylwo fans. Mizoguchi Tcijlré contribuud lcn. and Saigfi Kngelsu made a mole

typical (cur. Some of rhe fans hnre landscapes or figures. but me van majority were Cl0SC studies fmm lhe natuml world: chrysanlhcmurns, elms, mandarin

ducks, fish. and rhe like. 'l1\cs: appear (0 have been in dccoralive slylc. most

65 hem... nn. nm. IPluurmx n.n PD nun G0.-31¢

7 .

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Figuie 26. Hmrln. "Cenlnl lh.ll' The KnI|~l\0»IIu." uuaenr Inn nnnninei vhurqiupn emumay nrrhe An inrruure 0lCli|cl|o.

likely as laugh! by l-lashimolo cum. hui prlvblbly based as wen in oynknehrre life dnwing exercises. Olukun mum helped Slllpt the ieceptinn hr rhe 1-innnrs by wriiing the exhibilion pfllnplllel. In ii, he focused keenly mi enhancing Junuirs nurinnni image hy showing uuu ir was possessed olcenluries 01 dignified, iennen cullure Ind, equally iinpormrr, of enlighlelwd nlle. hpln, Okakum wrote.

Iejoicad in rhe gxeai underuking nr ure Worlnfs Exposition nun had “come lo the Exhibilion laden with lhe Ueasules of Ilia! an which has been Ihe heir

looin of her people rhr lh: inn ihousnnd yea|~s."“ He plesenwd ure phoenix.

fur which the exhibition hall was named. Is attendant Of llle idell soveleign, symbol of his altribules of holiness and mercy. He concluded his exhmlalion

in ure piesenv. wirh lh: Meiji ernpernr, exemplar of enlightened monarchicll ruie and overseer of Japan's new political system. Olukun eiren me inauguralion of rhe Diel assembly in moo as further pmofoflapalfs grvwlh as

I modem luliun stale. Knse Sli§seki's Shdloku Taixhi, displayed not in the l~l61'H|6 but in the Fine Afls Palwe. Slfllfik Ill: same levelenlial chord. His Shbroku Taishi, like

o6|hin,ps I




l lti

Chctptcr Thrcc

thc rooms of thc I-kiddo, rcvcls in period detail and liltc thcm, draws upon thc dcptlt of Japan's history to arguc its civility. Princc Shotoltu (574-622) occupicd a political position superficially analogous to thc lcadcrs of thc Meiji oligarchy: hc scrvcd as rcgcnt to tho Emprcss Suilto (r. 593-623}, offering sagc counscl to thc thronc. Shotoltu composed Japan’s first codc of civic rcsponsibility, his so-called Scvcntccn-Articlc Constitution of 604. Givcn Japan's promulgation of thc Mciji Constitution in I889, Shoscl-ti‘s 1892 painting of Princc Shotoku was topical. Sltotol-tu’s “constitution” cnunciatcd Confucian tltoorics of statc: it asscrtcd thc rulcr's imperial sovcrcignty as granted by Hcavcn, and cnjoincd thc people to obey thcir rular without question and to livc in a harmonious unity, provisions that scrvcd Mciji intcrcsts wcil. Shotolttt’s Constitution, though csscntially a sorics of moral injunctions,

scrvcd the ideological nccd of asserting an ancicnt history of contractual rula. Tltc dcnsity of Shoscki’s period dctail, thc ministcrs in audicncc, and thc English-language titlc given to thc painting, A Great Japanese Teacher--Shotoku Toishi, all cmphasizc thc sccular historical irnportancc of thc painting at thc

citpcnsc of its Buddhist contcnt of flying cclcstials, drifting touts petals, and Sh6toku's thrcc-jcwcl crown. Shoscki’s painting was art carly crtprcssion of

a growing trcnd toward idcalizing Shotoltu Taislti as one of Japan's first grcat statcsntcn, which supplanted thc ancicnt intcrprctation of him as a divine incarnation or ctnanation of Buddhist divinity.“ Shoscki rctainod a vocabulary of cotnrnon Buddhist symbols, but began thc proccss of associating this subject with Japancsc govcrnancc. The Hod-do pavilion gavo architectural form to Japan’s culturcd past. To cach of thc suitc designs Oltattura applicd a politically intcrprctivc spin by doclaring thom to be acsthctic cpitomcs of mistocratic culturc of thcir limos, as fostcrcd by liberal pauonagc. To dic period of cach suitc he ascribed cortain lrcy acsthctic virtucs, which hc uscd to framc thc discussions of thc art works. Thc Fujiwara apartments he pronounced csprcssivc of nativc Japancsc tastc and skill, froc of thc Buddhist!Chincsc orientation of thc previous, Nara period. Import-ad Buddhist stylc was for Oitakura guilty of “driving out that purity and simplicity which is distinctively ]apancsc.”63 Fujiwara tii‘. Sci: no Kintio, “The lnvcntiort of Wa and thc Transfomiation of thc lrnagc of Princc Shdtottu in Mod-

crn Japan." in Mirmr of .M'odr.'mit‘y.' lntnrnred Tr-ariirionr of Modem Japan. Stephen Vlastos. cd. tflcrttclcy: Urtivcrsily of California PTE55. 1998]. pp. 31'-4?. According to ltd (pp. 42-44}, intcrcst in Shotollcu first datcs from I903, thc l3[l]th anniversary of his constitution. The first modem studics of S116-toitu Taishi appeared in I393. This includcd Piriga I"-lagao‘s Shriroltn roishijtisnichijd no kcnpd rrt r.rur'rc: Auriga had been a studcnt of Emcst Fcnottosa at thc Toliyo Imperial University, and his translator. Edi. Olialtttra. “Thc Ho-o-tlcn (Phoenix Halli," p. S. In Dltulturifs 19'[l3 Iricrtls of the East with Special Rcfcrcnrc to the Art ofjnpon, hc says of thc Fujiwara era. “'Witlt it begins a new dcvcloprncnt in

Iapancsc art and culturc, which may bi: tcrrnod thc rrariorrut, in contrast to ll't:B predominating continental ideas of thc prcccdirtg cpochs.“ {Tokyo and Rutland: Tunic, 1935 [l'9'll3]), p. l4l.




-. .

The Tokyo School of Fine Arts under Clkalcura Kalturo


represented a “renaissance of pure Japanese taste." The paintings adorning the walls depicted spring and autumn, Nachi Waterfall. the Kasuga Shrine festival, ladies catching cricl-rets—all pastoral, refined themes, taken from the

Heian-period poetic tradition and native Shinto religion. Imagery indigenous to Japan was hailed in the Meiji period, too, as Japanese cultural critics strove to define national culture. The Ashikaga and Tokugawa rooms present a studied contrast, but both, according to U1-takura, reflected the tastes of the ruling samurai of their time, characterized as ideal warriors possessed of con-

templative natures. The Ashilcaga rooms were austere, the Tokugawa rooms sumptuous. Both exemplified Ol-cal-rura's romantic vision of .Iapan’s samurai past. Dkakura acknowledged Japan’s cultural debt to China, but considered

it to be outweighed by the native virtues of Japan's warrior rulers. t]kakura‘s discussion of the art objects was also pitched to elicit foreign admiration. He emphasised their technical finesse, the riclutess of their materials (precious metals, mother-of-pearl, lacquer], and the many hours of hand work lavished on dteir production. This was a sensible tactic, for Americans

in particular valued these qualities, all of which increased the costliness and desirability of the object.‘5'5‘ The sumptuousness of the Tokugawa and Fujiwara suites was readily apparent to the eye. Because the Ashilraga library and tea room reflected a more subdued aesthetic, Ukaltura instructed viewers that. “Simplicity of treatment is apparent, but it only affects the surface; intemally

much care and finish characterizes the work.""'"' The qualities currently admired in Western markets he described as definitive of Japanese art throughout its history. Thus, neatly, 01-takura sought to expand both Japan's exports and its prestige, by confimiing Western tastes for certain traits of Japanese art and then cloaking those traits in the authenticity of tradition.


Pteparing paintings for the world’s fair gave Art School students a dramatic first taste of professional responsibility, but certification as professionals

was achieved through the successful completion of a diploma painting. Okalrura's published comments regarding the third National Indusu-ial Arts Exhibition of I890 give us some idea of what he wanted to see in the

diploma paintings. There he outlined the criteria he thought contemporary Japanese painting should meet: refinement (kin '1'), idea (ishfi), technique

(gijntsa), and scholarship (gnknshiki). Properly synthesized, they would combine to create a work that was visually beautiful and captured the spirit of its subject. To achieve originality of conception, painters needed 69. Harris samples American responses to Japanese an products, pp. 31-12, =1-l.

"H1. UltaJtu|'a. “The I-lo-o-den (Phoenix Halli." p. I3.

= Clo. -gill‘


l 13

Ch-dprer Three

independence of heart. He repeated his and Fenollosa‘s mantra of innovation founded on tradition.“

The diploma paintings demonstrate what pa.rt of his experience at the Art School emerged as valuable for each student, or perhaps, more pragmatically, what part he could master in the space of five years. Most were stylistically eclectic, shifting the manner of depiction to suit the object depicted, rather than imposing unifonnity for the sake of the overall composition. Only a few students experimented with Westem-style one point perspective. In the diploma paintings of those who would become most attached to Ukakura as their mentor—~Taikan, Kanaan, and Shunso—we see how hard they strived to create original compositions.”

The early graduating classes suongly preferred figural themes. This was natural, given the curricular weight on history, which provided them both subject matter and the styles and uses of objects in historical settings. Emphasis on figures did not begin in the Art School; public education from the earliest grades taught history and inculcated morality and patriotism through

the medium of biography. The Art School courses in history continued a familiar pattern of instruction that helped create a taste for figural themes, this despite the traditional strength of landscape themes in the Kano and Shijo school repertoires. Yokoyama Taikan was the first of Ukakura’s four Shitennd to graduate, in July 1393. His diploma painting is Village Children Watching Monkey and

Muster (Sande lrnn’en ti; plate 2), and it is both a ffizoku (customs and mannets} painting and a minne (transposition), placing contemporary, familiar figures into an unexpected setting. This painting is thoroughly eclectic, like many of the student works. But conceptually it is highly original, something that would have appealed to his teachers. Village Children Watching Monkey and Master is composed of eleven

young boys and an elderly man in a woodland clearing, gathered around an ox surmounted by a performing monkey. Stylistically, Tailran‘s work draws on both Kano and Shijo-style precedents. Foreground earth mounds are defined through thick, modulated line, while deciduous trees, summer flowers, and grasses are treated more naturalistically with soft, layered colors.

Taikan created the illusion of mist winding through distant trees by manipulating the intensity of the color and softening the contours of forms. For the figures, Taikan followed conventions taught by the many ringn models of his earliest training. The clothing is sharply rendered, with heavy, modulated line describing patterns of wrinkles and creases, while the flesh areas are modeled with graded color supported by thin, even line drawing. The Tl. Ultaltura Kahuzfi, “Dai san lrai nailtoltu kangyd halturankai shinsa ltokoku slfi," Ohnkurn Tenshin zenshii l'Toityo: Nihon Bijutsuin, 1922], pp- 38-Ell-

12. The diploma painting of Saigo Kogeisu. the fourth of Clkakui-a‘s Shitctuio. is not extant.


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The Tokyo School of Fine Arts under Dltalrura Kakuzo


contrasting techniques make the clothes into essentially flat patterns of staccato Iine and flat color, while affording the flesh areas a significant tlu'ee-

dimensionality. The bull and the monkey appear to he based upon shasei study, then rendered through modulated color and fine lines to describe the

texture of their hairy coats. The monkey in particular is most naturalistic, exclusive of its red coat and black cap. Taikan's depiction is a series of close studies. In the landscape setting,

he attends to the variety of woodland plants, which is surely the result of life drawing exercises that used the elements of the school's inmtediate sur-

roundings. Among the figures, each child is carefully rendered in a unique pose. These children all lean, stretch, hold or, grab, accompanying their actions with a variety of head and facial attitudes. This interest in capturing

the human form in movement could have derived from his course on human and animal anatomy, taken during the first year of the painting program, although close and varied studies of figures had also been one of Fenollosa’s

tenets. Modeling the flesh areas with color helped Taikan convey the sense of mass, such as heads supported by arms attached to prone bodies. Some of these attitudes are quite successfully captufi, but others are awkward. The illusions of volume and movement are also confused by the linear drawing of the clothing, which creates fiat sections of pattern and mostly obfuscates any reading of the limbs beneath. The theme of the painting is a shamanistic practice based upon the identification of the monkey as a messenger of Shinto lrarni. The monltey‘s dance blesses the ox, upon which depends the agricultural conununity’s livelihood.“ This conununity is represented by the assembled children, among whom sits the monkey's uainer, an old man wearing a wide-hrimmed sedge hat. Taikalfs painting had a long gestation that began with ringa. Its immediate predecessor is his 1392 Morutey Trainer (Sara ntatvashi), which he made

as a fourth-year student.“ That work, in turn, relied upon figural elements and aspects of composition appearing in the llamakura-perio-d handscroll Story ofa Painter (Eshi zrishi);-"5 scenes from this scroll were developed into

ringa exercises, though at what date is unclear.“-'5 Quite unlike Taikan’s diploma painting, his 1392 Monkey Trainer offers a scene of entertainment, a composition in which an itinerant trainer arrives at a house with a trained monkey on a leash, ready to amuse a crowd of boys and girls and a single 73-. See Emilto Clh.uulti-Tien:u:y's The Monkey as P-firror: Symbolic Tmnsjilnnations in Japanese Ho-any and Ritual (Princeton: Princeton University Press. IQSTI.

T4. That painting is widely reproduced, including ‘tokoyama Taikan Flinenlran, ed., ltotinynmn Tail-nn. vol. l ffokyo: Dai Hihon Kaiga. I979]. p. I9. T5. Fujimoto Ydlto, “'l"oltoyama Taikan no ltoga mocha jidai—E.rhi rdshi o clflshin ni," ltlanpo, vol. 4 (lune I986}: ll-lll. 1'15. There is a ringa model based on this scro1l‘s first scene‘, il is reproduced in ‘toshida Chiruko, Tillc_t-vi Geiiutsn daigahn hyokanen shi: Tokyo Biiutsa Gakho hen (Tokyo: Gydsei, l'='I‘€lfi]I. vol- 1. fig- 1417-


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' '



Chapter Three

adult woman.” The young monkey kept by the Art School for life study may have been Taikan's model. For his diploma painting, Taikan retained the monkey, but radically changed both the composition and the conception. The ideas Taikan explored in the new work were unusual. ln his mem-

oirs he discussed the painting and provided the key to its interpretation: “I'd thought of painting my classmates [as they appeared] when they were young. . . . The monkey trainer was a nitrate for Master Hashimoto, while the eleven children were my fellow graduates as I imagined them when they were young."73 Taikan says that he talked about his idea with Gaho, who approved. and that he found himself the center of attention as classmates quizzed him about the figures’ identities and rendering. Mitate was an established pictorial device: a subject from history or legend transposed to contemporary time. and typically manipulated in tenns of gender andlor class.“ Taikan‘ s figures are classmates, therefore uniformly male. He has transposed them in both time and space, making his urban contemporaries village children. This recasting of figures creates a truly “imagined community"; it fabricates a fictive shared

past to express the students’ group identity in the present. In this scheme, the mother is superfluous and the monkey trainer becomes Gaho, who was literally the trainer of the graduating students. Trainer-Gallo directs the monkey in its dance upon the ox, which can be read as a dance of blessing on the budding artists‘ hopes for their futures. Thus a traditional subject has been recast into something intensely personal and expressive.

Of all Taikan’s teachers, it is Gaho and their relationship as mentor and student that figures almost exclusively in 'I‘aikan‘s memoirs. Unsurprisingly, therefore, Taikan essayed various devices to infuse his painting with ltokoro ntochi, “heart,” the vitalizing principle preached by Gaho. The line drawing, Tl. This painting is discussed in detail in Victoria Weston, Modemirotion in Japanese-Style Painting: Yohoyama Taikan E 1863-1958) and the Mfirotai .‘i'tyi'e, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan,

I991. This version may owe conceptually to models in the school, though this is a tuous argurnent. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, owns a group of paintings bought by William Sttngis Bigelow at a *'study“ collection, i.n other words, some fonn offintpon. Cine very large worlt. is titled “Harvest Festival" (ILBBIII Bigelow 3-'ll12B Copy); it is a Chinese village scene in which a rnilt of inhabitants gather to watch a monkey performance The worlt is in sharply linear tens style: t.he

catalogue infomration lists it as a Kano Tadanobu copy of a Sesshtl original. The very existence of this study collection suggests didactic purpose and some sort of school environment: the Art School relied upon_,l‘irn,oon as models, and a collection such as this begs the question of connection. [fTai.lr.1.n had some sort of ringa exercise on this topic, then his monkey paintings teflect a nunsposition of the topic from China to Japan. TB- Taikan, Taitltan jiden (I931, {l95l]]|, pp. 2'ii—3-ll. Officially there were eleven graduates: the seven in painting, two in sculpture, one in rnalri-e, and one in “painting special course.“ Tokyo Art 5-Cbool Fifth Annual Report. in Yoshida, Tokyo Geijrrtsa Daigaka hyaltttnen shi: Tdlryd Bijutru Galalzd hen,

p. 230. 79, Mitatc was likely first employed as a device for the unexpected comparison of disparate categories. By this period, though, initiate was understood as above. Timothy Clark, "Miler:-e: Some Thoughts anti a Summary of Recent Writings," ltnpressiotts, no. I9 {l'il"Fi'.l'}: 'l'—2'l'.




-. .

The Tokyo School of Fine Arts under D-ltakura Hakuzfi


thick and angular, is emphatic. There is little repose in the scene: nature breathes in a thick tnass of atmosphere, and the boys, while not running riot, busy the composition with their differentiated, tensile postures. The monkey trainer, the only adult in the scene, is made mysterious by the obscuring of his facial features with his great sedge hat.

And yet, for all that Gaho's teaching is evident, the more immediate, visual parallel is with Kawabata Gyokushd's Toy Paddler, painted for the Chicago Exposition (fig. 22]. That painting, too, is a composition of children gathered

around an elderly man. Gyokttshtfs adult is a flautist, offering immediate gratification; Taikan's is a shaman offering future rewards. Taikan's abrupt shifts

in descriptive manner, the powerful line in tl1e robes, the hand shading in the flesh, and the soft treatment of the outdoor setting are all present in Gyokusho’s painting. Even the interest in varied postures and facial views (frontal, three-

quarter, side), is evident in that teacher's painting. The real debt to Gaho, and to Dkakura, is in the idea. Taikan reached beyond the conventions of a simple genre scene to capture an aspect of Japanese spiritual life, and he did it by drawing upon his own experiences. Dkakura would quickly come to be associated with “idealist” painting triad‘-go). that

is, paintings driven more by lofty ideas than by their visual interest. in Ukalrura's mature thinking, paintings rose to the level of great art by being vested with "Idea." Figural themes were convenient vehicles for expressing

ideals, though Gallfi would have likely argued for any genie, given proper depictive methods. Taikan‘s idea for his diploma painting was the agricultural village community, a frequent and idealized subject in Western works

of this era as well. Taikan, child of the city, located his idea of carefree, bounteous community in the soft surnmer mists of a rural village The ritual he

described invokes connection between villagers and the divine, one rooted in ancient practice. He imbued his idea with increased force—with “heart"— by personalizing the image, by drawing upon his own oommunity to construct

the ideal. The compositional type is traditional, but Taikatfs vision was individual, thus vesting it with a kind of personal authenticity. The painting is

technically immature, but its motivating ideas are sophisticated and utterly amenable to Dkakura‘s developing line of thought. Shimomura Kanzan and Saigo Kogetsu graduated the following semes-

ter, in February 1894. In the diploma paintings of their graduating class, historical subjeets were the roost popular, well outnumbering all other subjects combined. Historical works, broadly construed, include depictions of famous

people and events of the past, of figures from literature and drama, and of scenes illustrating the customs and manners of past periods. Even Buddhist

themes—to the extent that they illustrate costumes, architecture, and manners of the past—can be thought of as historical. Historical subjects were devices for exploring some aspect of the human condition worthy of regard

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Chapter Three

and perhaps emulation. Of eighteen diploma paintings by the class of February 1394, only four fell outside these parameters. Kogetsu and Kanzan were within the mainstream, painting Shunkon ‘s Porting or Kikoigoshinro (Shonkon Kiiroigrtshimo rri Irersubersrr no arr} and Yrryo or Kiyomizu {Kiyomixrr Ynya),

respectively. Both subjects come from the Tole of the Herke, the epic account of the twelfth-century conflict between the Taira and Minamoto clans?“ The Heilce was a rich repository of moving themes; Shunltarfs story is one of pun-

ishment for worldly arrogance, Yuya’s is about the fragility of human life and well-being, the pain of hulnan attachments, and the need for human compassion. K.ogetsu‘s work is no longer extant; his was one of a group of diploma works bought by the Imperial Household Ministry to support the Art School mission, but lost in the Great Kantd Earthquakegl

lt'.arrz.an’s Kiyomiau Yuyo is a scene from a Nob play of the same title, after a story first recounted in the Tale of the Heike (plate 3). lt is a horizontally-oriented banging scroll that is composed somewhat like a short handscroll. At the left, an aristocrat’s ox cart rests amid rough country homes. The bullock has been tlltltitched and is being tended by grooms, while the

passenger, the cotut lady Yuya, sits at the forward edge of the cart, shielded by an attendant‘s parasol. Striding down an intersecting road toward her is a courtly gentleman, her husband, Taira Munemori. At the right, where a

viewer would normally begin reading the composition, a crowd of peasants and their children, Buddhist priests, and pilgrims gathers to gaze on the aristocrats and their fmery. In the distance, beyond the line of village roofs, rises Kiyomiau Temple, the dim colors of the pagoda’s spire and the great roof of the Buddhist hall suggesting distances yet to travel. While in A11 School, Kanzan became interested in narrative painting of the Heian era, broadly termed yomoro-e. Yomoro-e came into being, and became the object of court patronage, dining the later Heian period. Yomoto-

e painters used two distinct stylistic modes: ink line embellished with light or no color; and rich opaque color applied with little to no ink outline. In either case, yomnto-e meant subject matter derived from Japanese history, literature, or daily life.“ Kanaan began his studies of yomaro-e as a student in the advanced painting program under the tutelage of Kose Shfiseki and

Hashimoto Gaho. Shoseki was a painter of the Kose school, which specialized in Buddhist subject matter in courtly style. Hashimoto Gahfi was known SD. For the story of Shunkan, see Hiroshi ltfitagawa and Bruce Tsuchida, lIans., Tole of the Heiire (Tokyo:

University of Tokyo Press, IQTSJ-, pp. res-s4. The F-Ijyomizu ‘ruya story is recounted on pages 59"il—i.‘.|DCI.

tll- Ifinko Itlltelsu, no- '9 {February 1393}: llil. S2. On yr:mtoro~e see: lvliyelto Murase, Emu-1l:r': Norrorive S-croilsfrorrr Japan [New York: The Asia Society. 1933}; Miyeko Murase, Iconogrnphy ofrlre Tole o_-fGenjr'.' Gerrji nronogorori elrorobn {New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1933}; Louisa lvlclllortald Read, The Moscufine and Feminine Modes of

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The Tokyo School of Fine Arts under Olralrura Kakuzo


for the breadth of his interests and had himself copied all manner of Japan-

ese and Chinese antique paintings, including yamato-e.33 Like Taikan, Kanaan developed the forerunners of his diploma painting in the New Designs course. Kartzan’s I392 Niclrirerr Shdrrirr Preaching is the compositional

antecedent of his Yuya, the template for the disposition of the village architecture, its debris, small dogs artd massed figures, and the suggestion of deep distance through the center.“ In Kiyomiarr Yrryo, we see the fruits of Kanaarfs studies. The specificity of fabrics and equipment, including the ox cart, suggests the careful study of real objects. Like Taikan, Kanzan was very interested in showing varied postures and attitudes. Spread across the foreground village clearing are people standing, walking, leaning, seated, praying, focused in fascination, inattentive, tttrned toward the commotion and away, fully seen and mostly concealed. Like Taikan’s, his results are mixed, though more figrrres are skillfully rendered

than not. in Taikan’s wont, the crowd is limited in number, but Kanzatfs is a throng requiring sustained study. Kanaan balanced tlte groups of figures by using the lines of road and architecture to divide the composition into three

parts. He emphasized the element of spectacle by massing his figures around the central action. The foreground group, gathered around Yuya, is seen almost exclusively from the rear, including the startling mass of the ox’s hindquarter. This portion of the scene is backed by a high earthen wall, over which peers a single villager, barely visible, nose pressed to the wall's upper edge.

This left portion of the composition is anchored by Yuya and the cart; th-e center portion is composed around Munemori; the right is focused on a black-

clad spectator who by his own gaze directs ours back toward the two principms. This welter of color and activity, though, is contained within the lower portion of the painting. Above the boundary formed by the line of roofs, all is

pale earth tones, generalized form, and background. Even the inquisitive villager behind the wall is subjected to the sudden change in coloration, though he is not really far from the other figures. The choice of a Noh theme was natural, given Kanaan‘s family background, artd as a mature artist he would draw upon both famous plays and

actors as material for his work. In the Yuya story, the protagonist is tom between duty to her husband and duty to her parents, a theme with great Heiarr Secular Painting arm‘ Their Reiariortthip to (.'hr‘ue.re Par'nrr'rrg—a Redefinrrion qr’ lfornaro-e {Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford University, 1??-I5); Ienaga Saburo, Fainting in the l"orrar:|ro Sryie, trans, John ltd. Shields, [New York and Tokyo: 'Weall:tet‘ltillr'l-Ieibonslia, l9T3}; and Okudaira Hideo, Narrative Picture Scrolls, translated and adapted by Elizabeth ten Grotcnhuis {New York and Tokyo:

Weatherl'tilUShibundo. I973].

B3. Kawai Gyokttdtl, “Hashimoto Gallo sensei no koto," p. ll. 84- lf.an:.an‘s Nrchiren is reproduced in Unto Shigelri, ed., Shimomura lt'on:oo: K2-mean ,r;'r.t.rFtIi' (Tokyo: Dai Hihon ltlaiga. l'5l'Bl). pl- I9-

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Chapter Three

potential for strong sentiment. Yuya was the concubine of courtier Taira Munemori; hearing that her mother was ill, Yuya asked permission to return home for a visit. lvlunemori had plarmed a flower-viewing excursion to Kiyo-

miau Temple, and refused. At his order, Yuya danced amid the falling cherry blossoms, and the pathos of human existence, conveyed in her dance, at last softened lvIunemori’s heart. In the panting, Yuya sits slumped, her posture vividly expressive of her heartache. Munemori strides forward into the scene, summoning her with his fan. This is the poignant moment when, heart heavy

with concem for her mother, she must dance for her husband. Kanzan reiterates his theme in the group of figures at lower right. A seated mendicant, face shrouded by art enormous hat and reminiscent of Taikan‘s monkey trainer, sits on a trunk before two children, raised hand draped with a rosary, explaining some aspect of Buddhist teaching. Before him is a small

table covered with a cloth depicting two demonic red figures, stomachs distended, seated before a lotus pond. On the table are small sculptures of similarly fearful forms, fire rising from their footfalls. The small sculpted demons

face a single jeweled parasol and a recumbent Buddha, laid out upon a dais. The Buddha figure, colored gold, and the lotus pond suggest that the Buddha is Amitabha, who promises the faithful rebirth in his Westem Paradise. The children regard the figures as the mendicant speaks, likely on a theme of retribution and redemption. '1’uya's pain proceeds from human attachment

(in this case to her mother), which ties us to the wheel of rebirth, and from the evanescence of life; lvIunemori‘s eventual acquiescence illustrates compassion, an essential virtue.

Embodied in this painting are issues fundamental to the human condition of all times and all classes of people. The painting itself, though set clearly in the courtly past, includes people from all levels of society, reinforcing the idea that its theme is common to all and addressed to all. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, subjects such as Shunkan and Yuya would

have been painted for a courtly audience, for it was to their culture that such works referred. Kanaan’s painting is decidedly different; it was painted for public display, and Kanzan was careful to set his protagonists and the themes

they embody among the common people, making the black-clad spectator our guide to the unfolding drama. The display of filial devotion and the act

of compassion, Confucian virtues taught to all Meiji school children in their morals readers and valorized in traditional culture, are compassed within the teeming bustle of everyday life. The courtly figures model virtues that were now to be cherished by all members of Japanese society, and it is from this assumption that the painting derives its ability to move the viewer.

Kanzan"s work is also imbued with a strong fiizokrr quality. Much of the paint:-:r‘s interest here, as in his earlier Nichiren painting, was in describing objects of daily life and in the intercourse between villagers. His work is rich

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The Tokyo School of Fine Arts under Okakura lllakuao


in detail, from the gourd tied to a traveler’s staff and the animal skins slung over the roof beams, to the storage jars and the debris piled on the thatched roof. He even provided graffiti, on the wall at the extreme left. We see Kanaan striving to make his message powerful by making his depicted world concrete. Although he used shading, as in the black robes of the right foreground

figure, it is not naturalistic depiction so much as the welter of minutiae which compels a reality that draws the viewer in. Hishida Shunso graduated in I895 with his hanging scroll Widow aria‘ Orphan (Krtfu to koji; plate 4'). The theme is bereavement, illustrated by a woman, babe in arms, artd die empty scabbard and armor of the fallen hus-

band. Her home is destroyed by war; the righthand wall is a gaping hole, and the bamboo blind (sudare) is in tatters. She cranes sharply to the right, past the frayed armor and empty scabbard, whedier in apprehension or in futility listening for her husband’s retum. The armor, clothes, and architecttue place this work in the distant past of conflict between warrior clans. The figttre

type comes from Heian-period yomato-e, as do the abbreviated and relatively expressionless features. Traditionally, painters did not portray strong emotion in the faces of aristocratic subjects, and Shunso’ s widow is in fact a mod-

ern-day version of that ancient convention, but he has brought all of his depictive powers to bear on creating an image of sorrow, desolation, and fear.

Shunso’s search for a topic began in a conventional way. He wrote to his brother that he was thinking of a scene from the Tale ofrhe Heike, Taira Shigehira’s burning of the Nara temple T'odaiji, which, he explained, is “a really

good theme."35 Following the principles taught in class, Shunso sought authenticity by traveling to Kyoto and Nara to sketch ancient buildings, a trip for which he needed financial help from his brother. Sketching in Tokyo could not, he wrote, give him the proper feeling for the antique that he needed to make his painting work.35 Shunsffs brother obliged with ftmds, but when

Shunso returned, it was with a far more original and creative idea: instead of a scene of warfare, warfare's piteous aftennath. Teshigahara Jun contends that the painting was is in fact a response to the Sino-Japanese War, fought from 1894 to I395, though Shunso’s family was not touched by that conflicts” If Teshigahara is correct, then Shunsd, like Taikan, has made a “history paint-

ing" speak to his own time and beyond it, to the eternal tragedy of war. Where his older classmates looked to density of composition and detail to convey their motivating idea, Shunso stripped his scene down to its essence, thus enhancing the pathos. Compositionally, this painting derives from his I394 Warrior's Accorrtermenrs, a study of arms and armor strewn S5. Shimo-ina Kydikukai hen, Ddakane Taro, ed., Hishida Siturrso sdgd nerrpu {I'~la,-gano: Shimo-ina Kyoikukai, IQT4), pp. 9'.»'—9'S. Letter, Shunso to his brother, lo June 1394. B15. lbid., p. 97. Letter, Shunso to his brother, S June I894.

37. Teshigahara Jun, Hishida Shlrrrso to so-no jinlni (Tokyo: Riltugen st-cue, I932), pp. TU-—?ti.

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Chapter Three

about an interior (fig. 20). That work was essentially a room design. devoid of emotional resonance; in his diploma painting. Shunso used the empty armor and scabbard to symbolize a warrior's death. Shunso made the figure of the woman large for the sire of the scroll. a custom cormnon to the painting of divinities. This. together with the minimal delineation of interior space. is essential to the work’s impact. The painful. straining intenmess of the woman compels the viewer to participate in her anguish. The drama is heightened by Shunsffs unusual handling of light. The shadow of the sudrrre is a disturbing darkness that suggests misfortune spilling

in upon the widow and child. As in Taikan‘s diploma painting. the treatment of the background. contours softened by atmosphere, is markedly different from the sharp ink lines of the figures. who are immune to any localized light

effects. This background section has most naturalistic gradations of color. the subtle deepening of tone convincing the viewer of the depicted object.’s tangible reality. Such drawing must have been leamed in the Life Drawing classes. in which students were taught to replicate the appearance of real objects using not line but pigment and gradation. The effect looks quite Western. but at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts naturalism was leamed from Shijostyle painting. This naturalism is at odds with the drawing of the figures. In

the robes. Ga|'ro*s kokoro mochi is evident in the modulated line drawing. a blatant manner that demands attention and helps focus the scene on the woman and her emotional state. These two stylistic treatments. perfectly distinct in the picture. reflect the segregation of expressive line and naturalistic coloring and shading in the school curriculum. The feature most likely to have been derived from Western-style depiction is Shunsffs careful construction of threedirnensional space. the joining of architectural angles creating a sense of depth that serves the composition but does not overwhelm it. The power of the painting comes from Shunso’s subversion of yumuto-e convention. The lady is a conventional figure type. derived from yumato-e and

conforming in most ways to the ideal of Heiarr-period feminine beauty: long glossy hair falling the length of her body. small. pursed lips. long rounded nose. and long eyes narrowly opened. Such figures. perpehrated in the Tosa tradition. were a stereotype. but this one. for all of her conformity and fa|niliarity. has been made individual. The scale of the figure. the visual descrip-

tion of an emotional state—these are not part of the tradition. Whereas a Tosa painter relied upon the viewer‘s knowledge of the story to infuse a scene with

emotive content. Shunso made every element of his painting. singly and in toto. expressive of bereavement. and thereby transformed his Heian lady into a bereft sufferer with whom contemporary viewers. some touched by the

destruction of their war. might sympathize. In truth. at this scale and in this setting. the figure appears oddly deracinated from her proper context. but in

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The Tokyo School of Fine Arts under Clltalrura Kakueo


it Shunso. hm sniven to give form to his teacher’s mandate to root innovation in the familiar visual language of tradition. The early Tokyo School of Fine Arts. as eitperieneed by its first enter-

ing classes. was designed to forge a new generation of national artists. The late 1880s saw a great rise in concem for the education of the Japanese people to social and political responsibility.33 a concem shared by Oltakura. From his hortatory podium. Ukakura worked to mold young men into ideal Meiji

artists: civic-minded intellectuals creating first-rate art. Clltakura did not reject all aspects of Westerniaation; he sought to introduce useful elements of it into a matrix of traditional culture. He designed and redesigned the school's cuniculum to achieve the proper balance between tradition and innovation. and he devised official school rituals meant to socialize students into understanding themselves as servants of the nation. The Art School was to be a laboratory for a new national art; to achieve this. (lkakura put an astonishing array of intellectual and stylistic tools before his students. He drew

broadly from Japan's artistic past. housing a host of school styles under a single roof. The curriculum isolated and manipulated the elements of painting to make them tools for creating modern Japanese painting. rather than permitting them to remain definitive of any single school style. Graduation did not tenninate the students’ exploration of figure painting. Their Art School snidies became the foundation for their work as young professionals. They continued to copy antique paintings. probing the past for present inspiration. Those pupils who most identified with Okakura. one way or another. managed to rejoin to the Tokyo School of Fine Arts as junior faculty. thereby returning to the enviromnent that had pressed them as students to find innovative approaches to Japanese painting. When they sought to fulfill that obligation. the genre they turned to most frequently was historical painting. the subject of the following chapter.

EH- Eiluclt. Japan 's Modem Myths. pp. lEff.


ce S1'-






Chapter Four

Competitive Exhibitions and Historical Painting

B y requiring a common general program. and by inculcating and foster-

ing a group identity and a sense of mission. the Tokyo School of Fine Arts bonded a number of its most artistically committed graduates both to the institution and to each other. Following graduation. they took positions as assistant professors at their alma mater. which afforded them both fellowship and a steady income. From being supervisor of their training.

Dkakura continued as mentor of their continued creative work. a continuity that magnified his influence. Yokoyama Taikan. Hishida Shunso. Shimomura Kanzan. Saigo Kogetsn. Rokkaku Shisui. all among the school‘s first

graduates. coalesced as a group teaching under Dkakura Kakuao. following him from the school after his forced resignation in 1898 and joining him in forming the Japan Art Institute {Nlhon Bijutsu-in). one of the era’s most interesting art organizations and later one of Japan's most influential. Dkakura expected painters to give form to social ideals. “Just as devel-

opments in art are one kind of social phenomenon." he wrote. “artists too cannot evade being a part of society. For this reason. a period’s art is naturally influenced by the many circumstances of society and must represent the ideals and trends of thought of those times.'"' Over and over Dkakura wrote that social consciousness was no less necessary to painting than indi-

vidualism and self-expression. To invest his art with authenticity. a painter required both mindsets. Meiji painters had to reflect Meiji ideals. Meiji was a Japanese society renewed; painting had to reflect this renewal “surging through all of society."2 Okakura did not originate this principle. but he made l. Clkaltura Kakueo. “Shakai to sakka." Brjutsrr h_vr3rorr. no. 2 ll‘-lovcmber I397}: l. 1. l'bitl.. P. 1.




Competitive Exhibitions and Historical Painting


it a cornerstone of his ideology. which he pressed upon the painters working with him. A second and equally basic principle of Ukakura‘s circle was expressed

by Hashimoto Gaho: “Learn from the past to explain the present.“3 To Okakura‘s group. the genre that best united these two principles—i.e.. that

gave form to contemporary social ideals in a manner that acknowledged tradition while expressing modemity—-was historical painting. “Historical painting is a most useful stimulus in developing the ideal of a national polity

(kokrrrnr')."" Dkalttua wrote Japan in the late l8SDs and 1390s was much consumed with the process of self-definition as a national. political entity. Japan was not alone; the nation-state was a modern invention bom of the political need to create a sense of community among groups of people distinguished and differentiated by such features as language or dialect. social class. and

occupation.5 Historical paintings. by defining and displaying crystalliaing moments in national history and shared cultural values. could evoke a unifying patriotism. Dkakr1ra’s disciples explored in paint themes from Japan's

past. to illustrate and extol what they saw as the special qualities of Japanese nationhood.

Public eidtibitions. new to the Meiji period. were essential to the impact painting could have upon society. Held in large urban centers. these shows were huge events drawing great crowds and much press coverage. Journalistic attention further stirred and at the same time validated public interest in the exhibitions. which. in tum. helped situate fine art as a normative element

of middle class culture (lkakura’s group formed its own exhibition society as a venue for conununicating its values to the general populace. The group’s exhibitions displayed works in all traditional genres. but many of the largest.

most time-consuming and most conspicuous paintings were those with morally edifying historical themes. In newspaper reviews. discussions of the paintings‘ meaning and quality extended their impact. Thus. Taikan. Kauean. and their fellows contributed to the Meiji ferment concerning the content of Japanese values and the meaning of Japanese identity.


Ukal-:ura’s newly minted professional painters filled the roles of public intellectuals. but at the same time they needed gainful employment. Making orig-

inal art was their vocation. but did not afford a livelihood. Teaching offered 3. lvlixoguchi Teijiro. “Hashimoto Galfi sensei no koto." Toltyo Brjirrtrtr Gnkkri lrriytikni lrrrihfi. no. I9 (October J94-Di: 30. 4. Dlralrura retum. “lfoflt-n dai ichi go." Kolhlra. no. I (Wtober 1339).‘ l.

5- This is t.he topic of Benedict Anderson's r'trr-rrgirted fen-urrrrnr'rter.' Reflerrtnnr on the Origin and Spread q,fNrttr'nnnir'.r.m (London and New York: ‘rferso, I983. l!il'§ll)-

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Chapter Four

a steady income and a way to support creative work. Early graduates found employment in normal schools. middle schools. and primary schools (where the pay scale was significantly lower). A few made careers in museums. as Miaoguchi Teijirifr did at the Tokyo Imperial Museum where Okakura was

also a curator.“ More desirable were jobs teaching at an art school. ideally at their alma mater. which they had been taught to see as the center of the art universe. As headmaster of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. Ukakura had the power to select new faculty. and he chose from among these young men artists who would become his core disciples. Rokkaku Shisui. the first and only graduate in lacquer for the July 1893 class. was hired immediately as a junior professor because his skills were unique. In March 1894 two junior positions were added to the painting program. and these Dkakura filled with Okamoto Slruseki (1868-1940). one of the seven painters of the first graduating class. and Shimomura Kanaan of the second class. Kanean had graduated only a month before. and his appointment attests Ukakura's high opinion of his abilities. Addition of a new design program in July 1896 made further hiring possible. Saigo Kogetsu was thus hired in April I896. having been an advanced researcher since 1894. Yokoyarna Taikarfs appointment followed in May; Taikan had been teaching at the Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts (Kyoto Furitsu Bijutsu Kogei Gakko). die old Kyoto Prefectural Painting School but now under Ministry of Education directionfl Shunso. who graduated in July 1895 in the fourth class. was hired November 1896 to teach preparatory skills. Ukakura hired Terazaki Kogyo (1866-1919) and Kobori Tomoto (1864-1931). both young painters specializing in figural and historical subjects. in March 1898.3 Neither was a product of the Art School. but Ukakura knew them and their work from his role as judge in the exhibition society that they helped cofound in 1891. To fill some gaps between graduation and employment. Dkakura found interim work for Taikan. Shunso. Kogetsu. and several of their

fellow graduates. making copies of antique paintings for the Tokyo Imperial Museum. the Nara Imperial Museum. schools. and private associations. These organizations used copies to build their collections and broaden public appreciation for Japan's artistic heritage. For the painters. such commissions provided daily necessities plus an opportunity to continue their studies of art history and hone their skills. Okakura strengthened the already pronounced historical orientation of the Art School cuniculum when he redesigned the painting program for auturrm ti. Kirrlrd trrrrersrr. no. ti {October 1895}: 29. This lists job placements; Mizoguchi of the second graduating class and Scki Yasunosukc of the first were both hired by the Imperial Museum. T. Several sources say Taikan was hired in llilil. but this is ineorrect.

8. This dating is based upon notices in rlrrntn rerttetsrr and the curriculum viraes filled out by Arr School faculty.

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Competitive Exhibitions and Historical Painting


1894. This development caught Kanzan as a newly appointed junior professor and Shunso as an advanced student.9 Abandoning the much-touted technique-based curriculum. Clkakura now substituted the teaching of period styles.m Kose Shoseki was given responsibility for the styles of Kamakura (1185-1333) and earlier; Hashimoto Gaho for those of Ashikaga (1333-1573) through early Tokugawa (period dates. 1615-1868); and Kawabata Gyokusho for later Tokugawa. Shoseki was thus teaching yomoto-e as represented by the Kose and Tosa schools; Gaho taught the ink painting traditions of Sesshu. zengu. and the Kano up to and including Tan‘ytl (1662-74); and Gyokusho taught Maruyama Gkyo and Shijo school painting. Each was to teach his respective stylistic preserve from its origins through its evolutions up to the Meiji period. By thus. in effect. emphasizing Tokugawa-period painting. which Fenollosa had repeatedly castigated as stagnant. Clkakura demonstrated his growing pedagogical independence and his appreciation of the reality that working Meiji painters connected most strongly not to antiquity but to the inunediate past. to the schools and methods of the Tokugawa era.“ In

fact. even under the old technique-based curriculum. classroom teaching probably closely approximated Ukal-tura‘s reformulation. though the latter should have freed teachers to broaden their instruction of brush practice. Kanzan. newly hired. was made an assistant to both Shoseki and Gaho. his mastery of yomnto-e and ink painting being germane to both sections. Ukamoto

Shftseki. who had been hired together with Kanzan. assisted Gyolrushftlf Dkaltura’s curriculum restructuring likely derived from a number of experiences. The Hoodo design for the Chicago Exposition of 1893 featured three chronologically distinct period interiors. which set a precedent for thinking in terms of historical periods. The early. Heian section had fallen naturally to Shoseki. but both Gaho and Gyokusho had their stylistic roots in the Tokugawa period. Since Kano style. which suited the formality of the Tokugawa audience hall. lay more in Gaho‘s province. Gyokuslro. though a Maruyama-Shijo specialist, was assigned the Ashikaga suite by default. Clkakura’s new curriculum. by dividing the Tokugawa era into early and late. 9. Tailrau was in Kyoto and Kogetsu was a research student. thus neither was affected. 10. Yoshida Chiztrko. Tdiryd Cierijutsn Doigoiru lryoiturten slri: ratye Bijutsu Gokko hen (Tokyo: Cryosei.

198?}. vol. 1. pp. 249-51. ll. Fenollosa’s tlieoties on Japanese art were predicated on it being in dire need of resuscitation. a condition caused. he fell. by tht: an practices of the Tokugawa period in particular. His lectures in Japan

during the 1880s often began with some such assertion. as in his “Can Japanese Art he Revived?“ ca- 1885 tErrrest Fenollosa Papers. Houghton Library. Harvard University (bh-{S AM 1759.2 114]} p. l- By permission of the Houghton Library. Harvard University.

12. I-lishida Shurrso. letter to his eldest brother. 3 June. I894. explaining the distribution of teachers and subjects. This is tln: principal source for rtrrderstanding the change. which is not discussed in the annual repon. Reproduced in Shirno‘ina kyoikultai hen. Cldakane Taro. ed.. Hishida Shurtsd s-ego

nenprr tflagano: Shimo'ina ltiyoikulrai. l9’l4). p. 9?.

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Chapter Four

allowed Gaho and Gyokusho to teach from their respective strengths. In addition, Okakura had now been teaching Japanese art history since 1890, which

surely prompted him to think in terms of periodieation. In his lectures, for instance. he cited Tan‘yi and flkyo as representative of their respective eras. precedent for his decision to split the Tokugawa period as he did. Finally, the approach via the mechanics of painting had really been Emest l-?enollosa*s scheme.”

As Oltakura enlarged the faculty, its new members helped the school develop the extracurricular activities needed to create a sense of place and mission. Clubs provided opportunities for studenm to develop original works

and to receive recognition. As early as 1891, the Alumni Association (Koyr'1kai} was formed, though no one had yet graduated, and it held its first public exhibition in December of that year. Made up of faculty and students and led by headmaster 01-zakura. it provided fellowship and another mechanism for teacher-student contact. It held regular meetings where worl-ts were

shown and discussed, plus large annual competitive eid1ibirions."* Smaller groups such as the Idea Research Society (Isho kenkyfikai) served a similar function. This society was a competitive forum for developing original ideas,

functioning much like the New Designs class. Each month, a theme was announced. Those entering were to deposit their compositions. either a painting or a design, with Shimomura Kanaan or Okamoto Shiiseki, the two junior painting professors.“ The themes tended toward the allusive, the first being the sound of a bell at moming, with the stipulation that no bell be depicted.

Subsequent themes were atmospheric-dawn, moming mist, and the like The point was to stimulate students’ imaginations. In April 1394, the Alumni Association published its first number of Kinkd

ortrrersu, the school‘s journal.“5' It provided current news such as the hiring of new faculty and announcements of competitive exhibitions, and ran feature articles by the school's faculty on topics of general aesthetic interest. It

reported the successes of faculty and students in competitive exhibitions. The first issue appropriately featured the text of a speech made by headmaster

Clkaltura upon his return from a study trip through coastal China.” Articles such as these circulated the views of school leaders, indoctrinating students 13. Information on the arr school curriculum in the post-Ultaltura years [post 1393) can he found in lzosalri ‘fasuhilro, Yoshida Chixuko, et al-, Tdiryd Bijutsu Gnkkd no rekilrhi (Tokyo: Hihori Btlnltyo $1'ltlppan, 197?]. Id. "t"oshida Clijxtilto, Tdiryd Geijutsu Daigairu hyakunen .rh|'.' Tfilryd Bijutsu Gakkd hen (Tokyo: Gyfisei, I937], vol. I, p. ZED. The association ntles were published in Kinirfi zntrersu, no. 4 {March I395]: l3—2l.l.

15. K-|'n.i:d znrreisn. no. 5 {June 1395}: 33. tn. This na.me does not lend itself to translation- ll means something like "miscellaneous writings of the brocade quarter." I7. Clltaltura Kaltuzfi, "Shina no bijutsu," Kirikti .:urter.tu, no. I {April I394}: Ii-lti-

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Competitive Exhibitions and Historical Painting


to their ways of thinking. From Dkak|1ra’s article, for instance, students would

have learned that China was a nation with a rich cultural past but dismal economic and artistic prospects for the immediate future. The next issue featured

“The Urgent Work of Today" by I393 graduate Utsumi Kosei (I873-3), who exhorted his younger fellows to greater creative effort.“ Dkakura was a superb publicist, expert at finding and creating means for

centralizing himself and his followers in the dialogue on Japanese culture and identity. The most effective means were exhibition societies, formed to display original work. Public exhibitions broke the old pattems of patronage, in which painters worked to order; now, paintings were made on speculation. Exhibitions encouraged general audiences to participate in the seemingly rar-

efied world of fine art. The competitive aspect generated tension and thus more press coverage. It also functioned to educate the public, since the awards instructed viewers as to which works represented excellence. The sheer size

of the events, gathering hundreds of paintings under a single roof, were (lkakura's proof that his painters represented vitality and progress. Exhibition societies had been around for some years, ranging in scale from small groups of friends to broader organizations meant to gather a wide variety of competing exhibitors. The govertmrenfs Ministry of Agriculture

and Conunerce used large-scale exhibitions to promote Japanese manufactures, mounting in 18?? and 188] the Domestic Industrial Expositions (Naikoku kangyo halturankai). These shows included art products such as porcelain, textiles, and painting. Narrowing the focus to painting, the same ministry sponsored the 1332 and 1334 Domestic Painting Competitive Exhi-

bitions (Naikoku kaiga kyoshinltai}. In I834, the Agriculture and Commerce minister privately founded with other govemment functionaries the Toyo kaigaltai (East Asian Painting Society). It held monthly meetings and public exhibitions, in one of which Shimomura Kanzan participated, and published Kaign sdshi (Pairrtirrg Compendium), one of the era’s most influential artjou.r-

nals. Ryuchikai (Dragon Pond Society) was also a private society founded by government bureaucrats, out of concern for the condition of contemporary traditional painting.

Dkakura had had prior experience with public exhibitions as a founding member of the Kangakai (Painting Appreciation Society]. That society had

mounted two major exhibitions of original work in I335 and I386, showing about seventy works in the first and more than lllfl in the second. About twenty painters from this relatively small society participated in each exhi-

bition. "9 Monthly in-house displays, critiqued by Fenollosa, taught Kangakai IS. Utsumi Efieci, “Rye no kyf1mu," Kinkd earlersu, no. 2 {lune I394}: I-4. I9. 'I'i‘.ikyi3 liiokurilsu Bunltazai It-Zenltytljo hen, Meiji kl biiutsu tertrrtn.in:u' .rhuppi'n moirarrolia (Tokyo: Clulo

lfiiron Bijutsu Shuppan. 1994i. pp. 3-4.

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Chapter Four

painters what to strive for; the public displays then promoted Fenollosa’s ideas on excellence. The first exhibition society in which Clkakura played a leadership role was the Japanese Association of Young Painters (Nihon seinen kaiga kyokai]. It had been founded in I391 by Terazaki Kogyd, Kobori Tomoto, and ten other young studio-trained painters, who invited Ctkakura to serve as its president and judge. It was here dist Clkaltura first became acquainted with Tomoto and Kogyo and their work, which led him to hire them in H393 for the Art School faculty. The membership of the Young Painters (participation limited to people under age thirty) included Dgata Gel-tko (I851-'i—l92l]), who had shown previously with the Kangakai, and Yamada Keichn (1868-1934). These painters remained part of Okakura’s circle for the next decade, and they acted as more advanced colleagues to Clkakura‘s Art School disciples, to whom membership in the Young Painters was, of course, extended. In October I892, Clkakura brought the fn"st official public exhibition of the Young Painters, now including his own disciples, to the Tokyo School of Fine

Arts, presenting about 300 works by roughly 200 competitors. The second competitive exhibition, on the same scale, opened in April of the following year in the old Exhibition Hall in Ueno Park, Tokyo. Ueno Park remained the Young Painters’ exhibition site until their last show in 1895.2“ To promote the Art School, Clkakura organized a multipart special event celebrating the achievements of the school’s first five years. Held Ill-1? April 1894, its purpose was “to publicly announce the school’s teaching principles."3' It included two exhibitions: works from the Art School in the older building to the east, and an exhibition of new works shown under the auspices of the Art School’s Alumni Association in the newer west building. The school’s classrooms served as exhibition space, and the public was invited to see how the school worked. Taking a page from the I-loo-do displays at the 1393 Chicago World‘s Columbian Exposition, it was a whole environment presentation of Art School success. Teaching materials, faculty works, student exercises, and diploma paintings—all were put up for view. A total of l,2l4 works were shown, making it a huge event. Not only did the exhibition draw visitors, it won good coverage from

Tokyo newspapers, which Cllcalorra needed to broaden the potential support base for Art School programs. Newspapers reviewed the whole exhibition, commenting on new works and the diploma paintings of the recent past. This press coverage helped young painters make public names for themselves. Shunso, still a student, won a medal in the Alumni Association portion of 20. lbid.. pp- -‘$5-S3. 2|. “Iugyfi seiseikibulsu tenranltai oyohi lioyflkai rinji tailtai.“ Ifirtltri zntretstr, no. 1 {June I394): Eh-33This outlines the exhibition contents and reprints reviews.

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Competitive Exhibitions and I-listorical Painting


the exhibition, as did Kanzan and his classmate Arnakusa Shim-ai.32 The newspaper Koknmin mentioned Taikarfs diploma painting as one of the superior works, probably the first time Taikan was praised in print.” Kanzan’s new work, Nichirert Preaching, his award winner, received special

mention in the magazine Kn Nikon?‘ All of these notices were reprinted by Kinkd zarrersn. The Art School painters in Dkakura's orbit needed a public exhibition

vehicle beyond the confines of the school. This he provided in February 13945 by dissolving the Japanese Association of Young Painters, merging its mem-

bership with the teaching staff of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, and reforming it as the Japan Painting Association (Nihon kaiga kyokai). Originally, Okakura conceived of the Japan Painting Association as an enormous society with three exhibition sections: traditional Japanese-style painting, Westem-style oil painting, and new Japanese-style painting. The oil painting section was short-lived; Dkakura invited Kuroda Seiki (lS6ti—l924l and his White Horse Society (I-lakubakai} to show as the oil painting section, but they withdrew to rttount dteir own shows after only a single appearance. The tra-

ditional section never developed either, as other venues, particularly the Japan Fine Art Association (Nihon bijutsu lcyfikail, a later incarnation of the Dragon P’ond Society, served more traditional painters. The only section to flourish was new Japanese-style paintings, to which the fonner Young Painters and the Tokyo School of Fine Arts faculty all contributed works.

The Japan Painting Association drew subnrissions from Kyoto painters, but its membership was overwhelmingly Tokyo-based. Its shows took up where the Young Painters had left off, beginning in 1396 and using the same Ueno

Park facilities. Thanks to its large membership, these were enormous affairs: 640 works in the first show, reaching l,llOll in subsequent exhibitions, in

which only the “new” wing of the new Japanese-style painters participated.“ Roughly 400 to dill] exhibitors were represented, making the Japan Painting Association a principal forum for viewing and assessing current new paint-

ing in Tokyo. The shows received thorough newspaper coverage Many reviews extended over several days, discussing some individual works at great length. Tokyo in

the lB9'tls was served by many substantial daily newspapers, though readership was still largely confined to the elite and upper middle class. Art and

culture, which interested drese strata of society, were well covered. The dailies, Mnfnichi, Nihort, Kokamin, Hdchi, Tokyo Asahi, and Yomiari all covered the 12. Kinkfi eflflelsu no. 2, tlunc I894): 2'5‘.

ll-. lbid., p. 3|].

14- lbid, pp. 30, 32. 15. Tokyo lfolttrritsu Bunltazai lienkyfijvb hen. Meiji kl bijutsu tenranlzat sirappin rnolrrrrolrn, pp. 55-Ill -

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Chapter Four

Japan Painting Association exhibitions.“ Journals offered reviews as well:

Bfirrrsn hydron {Art Criticism), Tniyd (The Sun), llhseda lnrngnkn {Waseda [University] Culttlrejl, Bijutsu gafrd (Art Painting Report). Newspapers reported

during the exhibition period, thus stimulating interest and popular attendance. The joumal reviews tended to appear after a show had closed, but their critical approbation served to build reputations, particularly for the young painters. Tokyo School of Fme Arts‘s Alunmi Association journal, Kinlrd zrrrrersn, regularly collected and republished the reviews, good and bad, to demonstrate the impact Okaktua’s disciples were having on public opinion. The Japan Painting Association gave Okakura’s disciples the opportunity to show innovative paintings. Figures in historical settings were a favorite

topic, including but not limited to illustrations of heroes and epochal events of Japanese history and scenes from daily life. This was especially true of the painters Shimomura Kanzan, Hishida Shunso, Terazaki Kogyo, Ogata

Gekko, Kobori Tomoto, and Yamada Keich11—all produced primarily figural works. Yokoyama Tail.-ran's principal works were figural as well, though he

also showed landscape paintings in the early shows. Only Saigo Kogetsu preferred landscape, but he too did historical figure painting. This emphasis was not an idiosyncrasy of the Japan Painting Association or of Okal-tura’s cir-

cle; historical painting answered to the temper and concems of the era, and many painters and print designers spent their efforts on imaginary portraits

of historical paragons and illustrations of their deeds. For the graduates of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, this trend was especially congenial, given the emphasis on .lapan’s history in their training. Because of their proclivity

toward painting heroes, heroic events, and idealized figures of an idealized past, the work of Okaltura‘s group was labeled risd-grt (“idealist painting"). Its critical reception was mixed, depending on the reviewer’s estimation of paintings whose chief interest lay in their subject matter. EXHIBITIONS AND VISUALITY

Public exhibitions sponsored by the Japan Painting Association allowed Ol-;akura's group to control the visual setting and its contents, and promote its goals directly. As Kitazawa Noriaki discusses in his Me no shinden, visu-

ality is a hallmark of Meiji modernism, vision supplanting the traditional social value placed on hearing.” In pre-Meiji Japan, storytellers used En. These newspapers also reviewed ltahulti drama, Holt drama, and other forms of cultural entertainment. See, for instance, Toita lfoji in lfomiya Toyotalra‘s Japanese Mrtric and Drarnrr in the Meiji" Era, translated and adapted by Edward Seidcnsticlter and Donald Keene (Tokyo: Obrrnsha, lilfitil, pp. lilo-21, “Theater Joumalism.“ The best source for understanding the range of painting reviews is lvlatsuura Akiko, ed., Nihon Bijnrsain hyaliarnen shi, vol. l (Tokyo; Olsulta ltifigeisha, I989).

2?. ltitaeawa Noriaki. Me no shinrten (Tokyo: Bijutsu Shuppansha, I989}, pp. isz-es.

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Competitive Exhibitions and Historical Painting '


emakimono, picture scrolls. as aids for the telling of epics. Buddhist imagery

likewise supported oral recitation. Displayed during chanted ritual or used by itinerant monks to explain doctrine, pictures clarified and enlivened the spoken word.23 In the Meiji period, by contrast, govemment organs and pri-

vate groups alike tumed to exhibitions to promote their agendas. Exhibitions ranged image after image before spectators in a constructed space unlike any viewing environment in daily life. The historical paintings of 0l:.akura’s group. fabricated for the exhibition hall. were triumphs of visuality. By depicting historical subjects valorized in literature or familiar from popular

theater—especially themes from the Tale ofrhe Heike or from the many Noh and Kabuki dramas based on that wort-t—the paintings exploited a great depth of cultural resonance. 0k.akura‘s disciples rendered stories and symbols as wholly visual objects. the whole spoken component of story or ritual removed. Viewers themselves reinvested the images with ideas and

emotions. The context—an exhibition hall full of pictures on various topics— emphasized the visuality of experience. The sheer size of such exhibitions precluded any “framing” or “setting

off” of individual paintings; the walls were simply filled with paintings. Therefore Dltakura's painters needed other means to make their works stand

out. One way was to make a set of related works; another, to make a single painting of monumental size. Size ipso facto attracted attention; it also implicitly corrtmunicated importance. Divinities warranted depiction on a grand

scale; so too did ethically weighty themes. U'kakura’s painters, following Fcnollosa’s counsel to the Kangakai. treated historical subjects and rendered them on a gland scale. Exhibition paintings thus became increasingly divorced

from common domestic use. Though the exhibitions themselves reached out to the general populace, the “important” works had no future except on the

big walls of the wealthy or museums. HISTORICAL FIGURES In the Meiji period, historical painting emerged as an exploration of national

identity. National history was burgeoning as an academic field, writers and cultural critics tuming their attention to native themes. Two decades of intense technological Westerniaation confronted public intellectuals with the

-question; What is it that makes us Japanese‘? The question had a great prac— tical import: its answer would determine what kind of modemizatiou was

suited to Japanese needs. Moreover, a convincing self-definition could counter Eli. Lawrence Levine in his Highbronv'Lr:wbmw.' The Emergence if Cttlruml Hiemrchy in 4-lnrerieu (Cambridge: Harvant University Press. I938} maltcs roughly thc same point conceming Arncrican cul-

ture in the nineteenth century. when speech and song lost ground to written words and pictures.

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Chapter Four

the implicitly invidious definitions handed down by Western colonial powers, and could serve to combat the unequal relationships justified by those

definitions. Historians worked to pierce the veil of the distant past to find the origins of the Japanese people and the native roots of Japanese culture in order to define an essential Japanese-ness and thereby bolster Japan’s national unity and its intemational fortunes. Intense and competitive relations with Westem powers exacerbated but

did not generate the intellectual compulsion to defme Japanese culture and to root it in antiquity. The rise of the modem nation-state posed tl1e questions. What makes a legitimate political unit? Was it shared language, culture? In

the West, eradicating local customs and dialects facilitated imperial administrations and the homogenization of culture as defined by the dominant power.

In Japan, the promotion of a standardized Japanese language through nationalized education, for instance, helped construct the notion that Japan possessed a fundamentally homogeneous population. Recovering the past, especially one

as ancient as Japan's, and treating it as a collective inheritance was an act of national confidence-building. Motivated by these needs, painters and print makers of every stripe turned to historical themes. By 1390, Ukakura was promoting historical painting as essential to the continuing progress of Japanese paint:ing.29 It was, for him,

the perfect vehicle for developing a national art, because it could express cultural authenticity and give “expression to the Meiji people's vitality.“3“ Historical painting also preserved and maintained Japanese pictorial and cultural

traditions, Okakura argued, having been nurtured in Japan since antiquity for its power to move the emotions.“ That power, undiminished in modem times,

could serve as a powerful moral force. These ideas were congruent with new educational directives, reflected in the I390 Imperial Rescript on Education mandating an education that nurtured morality and ideals of citizenship.

The first to claim value for historical painting was not Clkakura but Fenollosa. In an extant fragment of a speech given to the Kangakai (ca. I334),

Fenollosa argued the need for “a great school of historical painting." Historical subjects would “equally . . . appeal to Japanese patriotism and national pride."-if lizrmato-e and Tosa-school painters often addressed historical themes

but, according to Fenollosa, their works of the past SDI} years were mediocre, 2'9. Ulralrura Kakuzd, “Dai sari kai naikolru kartgyd hakurankai shinsa hi-koku shd," Okokum Teruhin zenshri (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1979}, vol. 3, p- 3?31]. Dkakura Itialctrad, “Kolr.|l:a dai ichi go," p. 2.

3|. lbid.. p. 2.

32. Ernest Fenollosa, “Lecture to ltangakai" t’hl'v'lS Arn lT5'5I'.2 [$21) p. 19. Emest Fenollosa Papers. Houghton Library. Harvard University. This pagination follows that which appears on the frugmentary speech. What remains begins on page 19. By permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard Llrriversity.

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Competitive Exhibitions and Historical Painting


and contemporary painters of these schools were too bound by stylistic, subject, and format conventions to produce the kinds of stirring works required by Meiji Japan. He sneered at their “little wooden men and horses" and “the traditional confining of such paintings . . . to the awkward and inexhibitable form of makimono [which] made the forms small and trivial."33 Historical painting was a pa.rticularly apt genre for both expressing and molding national character, and to accomplish these ends, it required public exhibition. In this same speech, Fenollosa outlined what painters needed to do to make good historical painting. It is worth quoting at length, because this is essentially what Dkakt1ra's disciples did when they tackled historical paint-

ing for public exhibition: ls there then, any possible hope of creating an adequate national school of historical painting in the immediate future‘? . . .To conceive in adequate pictorial form, that is the thing to be done. But what is adequate? First, to get as much intensity, life, individuality, and fine drawing of figures in all possible positions, as had Sumiyoshi Keion 650 years ago. Second to do, what he and his school could not, draw these compositions of large size; and not on makimono, but on panels. Third, to treat these pictures in such a way that they shall have strong effect at a distance. if hung up. say, on walls of a large room. Fourth, to make the character of the composition, the beauty of the lines, the gradations, and the coloring, full and free from all traditional limits, and springing in each case out of the necessities of representing with the utmost force the nobility of the subject selected.34

He erdrorted Kangakai painters: “It is not armor, and costumes and swords and eyes and nose that you are called upon to paint; but affection, and passion, and fears of the human heart, and the indomitableness of human wills.”35 Fenollosa’s audience probably included Ukakura, Hashimoto Gahfi,

and Kano Tomonobu, all of whom became teachers at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. But at the Art School it was more the students than the teachers who displayed a penchant for romantic historical subjects and whose works tended to illustrate the most dramatic or the most poignant moments in a historical narrative. Such scenes of heightened emotion, like the long moments of arrested action (mic) in a kabuki drama, compelled viewers‘ attention and intensified their response. 33. Iblt2l.. Pp. I9—I[l.

34. Ibld., p. 2| . Sumiyoshi Ilieioo is a shadowy figure said to have been active in the late llth to early |3th centuries. Fenollosa‘s good opinion of Keion may rest upon the old attribution of the Her]! nronogatari scrolls to him. 35. Ibid-, p. II.

= Cit"). -git:


-. .


Chapter Four

l.'.lkakura‘s students’ choice of subjects may also have owed something to nineteenth-century American assumptions regarding the content of his-

torical painting. According to William Gerdts, a historian of American art, “history painting referred not only to scenes from national history but also to classical, religious, and even allegorical representatior1s—that is, it encom-

passed classical history and biblical histoty."3‘5 Add to Gerdts' definition subgenres such as “genrefied history" (historical figures depicted in genre settings) and historical genre, as he and his co-author Mark Thistlewaithe do, and the range was broad indeed. This changed only in the late nineteenth century, after Fenollosa had arrived in Japan, and with the rise of more nation-

alist agendas. We cannot now know what FenolIosa‘s particular assumptions were concerning historical painting prior to his arrival in Japan. but Boston was the home of many painters and the locale of many American historical

themes. His own short training in painting honed the skills of academic realism. His discussions of historical painting during his sojoum in Japan empha-

size its value as a tool for glorifying a “national” past. Finally, the works produced by U]-taln of onlor was = Constant in their Work

Ftgtue 46 Kurodl sen. Klllfrlillldlrrl (Gre1~mr~Imtnp, um. ml on unvu. Corutizsy of Tokyo lnstitute. Independent Administrative Institution. National Research lnstitute for Clll~ tunl P1nn¢ni=.~




Group Identity and Innovative Style: Morotoi


because they had been taught a curriculum that isolated the idea of ndtott.

When Taikan worked on the fall of light for his Listening to the Sermon (fig. 28), his concern was the neraa. The hoke brush took fine shading to new heights in Japanese painting; morotoi was the application of noton writ large. Hashimoto Gah6's work offered precedent in traditional painting. Galrfi

had studied medieval ink painting, particularly copying works by Sesshfi, one of the masters of ink wash. As a member of Fenollosa’s Kangakai, Gaho heard a great deal about the importance of noton. Ciaho frequently permeated portions of his scenes with depictions of atmosphere, which he used to distinguish planes of recession into space. ln his 1892 Lortdscope (fig. 9), for instance, white mists drift through the middle, softening the masses of the mountains and masking our perception of distant trees and pagoda. White Clouds. Red Leaves (plate 1), painted before his students, similarly describes rising mist. But at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts where Galfi taught, his

responsibility was depictive and expressive line drawing. White Clouds, Red Leaves offers passages of atmosphere, but the work is dominated by outlines shaping individual leaves, by short texnire sn'okes, and by strong ink drawing. For Gahd, nriton was a method to distinguish one compositional element

from another and to make clear and rational the spatial planes. The technical background best suited to Tail-tan’s and Shunsffs needs was

that provided by their Kyoto teachers at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. It was the Kyoto faculty, Kawabata Gyokushd and Kose Shdseki, who taught

them their skills in non-linear painting. The htrke brush, fundamental to rnfirfitor"s effects, was uncommon in Japanese painting except among Sl1ij6-

school painters. Shij-ii style is rooted in naturalistic description, and Shijo painters used the holes brush‘s broad head to subtly shade skies. Shijfi descrip-

tive techniques embraced brush methods that built forms additively through accumulated strokes and the blending of adjacent colors. The passages of naturalistic description that appear throughout the early work of the A11 School-

trained painters stem directly from their life-study classes. Okakura’s regard for Shijri-school naturalism appears in his directing Shunsd away from Gal't6’s

class and into Kawabata Gyokuslifs Maruyarna-Shijo class, urging that life drawing, as the basis of the best in Japanese art, would make contemporary

Japanese painting the equal of Western-style painting.'5"5 Shijo school painting, founded on life drawing, was thus the native Japanese means to a type

of naturalism that could match Western-style painting. Shijo style and method is the connecting thread running through the work of Taikan and Shunsfi and

leading finally to morotat.


66. Letter from Shunsc home, S Junr: I394, Hishida Slrrtnso srigfi nenpu, p. 9?-

L. o r 31 c

. -




Chapter Five


The opening of the Japan Art Institute in 1893 was anxiously awaited and richly feted. The drama of the group's secession, the support offered by fellow artists and foreign art lovers, and the quick succession of ambitious public programs seemed certain to establish the Art Institute as a major force in the Japanese art world. This assumption seemed confirmed by their participation in the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris. Painters representing a great range of Japanese schools exhibited, and the Art Institute was well repre-

sented. Gaho showed two paintings; Miauno Toshiltata, two; Terazal-ti Kogyo, one; Tail-tan showed his Listening to the Sermon and Kanzan, l1is Death of Tsugunobu.“ Success, though, quickly turned to failure. The younger painters‘ infatuation with mdrfiioi, compounded by what was likely a relaxed

managerial style, spelled financial disaster. Okaltura had again separated from his wife, and his attentions to Institute affairs was limited. Gaho‘s style remained on the whole Kano-like, and his reputation was secure; he could sell paintings. The younger painters, however, were hurt by reviews that not only condemned their style but demeaned their technical proficiency. Attendance figures for their public exhibitions dwindled from a high of 16,386 in autumn l9'[ll, to 15,597 in autumn 1902 and 6,206 the following spring.‘i’3

The Institute fought back by trying to create its own public. Its monthly journal, Nihon bijutsu, gave the lnstitute a sustained print presence in its own

voiee. It reproduced their work, promoting both their stylistic innovations and their preservation efforts as scholars and restorers. Nikon bfiursu competed with the most sophisticated publications, using sharp half-tone reproductions, usually six or more per issue. For the semiannual competitions, Nikon bfiuisu metamorphosed into a copiously illustrated eidiibition catalogue. The monthly publication could seek a public by offering vicarious par-

ticipation in lnsti tute but for the painters to build an adequate patronage base, die public needed to see their paintings. The Japan Art lnstitute was the first Japanese organization to exploit the traveling exhibition. it began in autumn 1893, itruuediately following its first public exhibition, sending large

samplings of competition works for exhibition in Sendai, Moriolta, and Akita, northern destinations not currently on the art map.” Dltakura, accompanied by Hashimoto Gahd, ‘t’ol.-toyama Tail-tan, and Teraaaki Kogyo, opened the tour with a lecture in Sendai. He spoke again in Morioka, joined this time by Saigfi Kogetsu. He then went on to Akita with Kfigyo. In 1899‘, the lnstitute sent 6?. Catalogue of exhibited works reproduced in Nikon Bijuisuin hyokunen siti, vol. Eb, pp. 4-2T—3-5. El-E. Hosono Masanobu, Kindni nihongo no re'imei.' Nikon BE:-it.rm'n {Shiga H.en.riLsu Kindai Bijutsllkan. 1939). p. I2. 6'3- For a full accounting of these exhibitions see Nomoto Atsushi, "Zenlti Nihon Bijutsu-in ehiho junltai lenranltai: Tenshin no lcangaeta bijutsu to shaltai,“ l‘:-taro Ronsd, no. 5 (I993): 31-37‘-






Group Identity and Innovative Style: Mrirdrui


paintings south to Fukuoka and Hiroshima in February, then to Osaka in

April. followed by Yokohama and Nikko, cities within easy distance of Tokyo. Clkakura accompanied these paintings too as a lecturer, attended by yet other

Institute members. Disparate precedents inspired these traveling exhibitions. In England, the

South Kensington Museum sent out public exhibitions as early as the 1850s in order to improve public taste and to fumish suitable models for local craftsmen. Okakura‘s educational agenda, developed in part by studying Western institutions such as South Kensington, included such social goals, thus one can conceive of his traveling exhibitions as an effort to "improve" public taste. i.e., to guide it toward works made by his disciples. To his Sendai audience, for example, Ukaltura declared that the Institute‘s aim was “the introduction

of mainstream (ease) art to local areas,” the implied but unmistakable corollary being the Institute's centrality in die art world?“ Bringing Institute work

to places like Sendai would also “promote the development of art ideals in the hinterlands."7l South Kensington was a huge museum with diverse col-

lections, thus its traveling exhibitions ranged broadly in medium, period, and style, but the Japan Art Institute was a working artist-based organization that

could offer only the works of its own membership. The practice of sending Institute members out with the exhibitions, dis-

playing them along with their works, suggests another precedent. During the first half of the Meiji era, the emperor toured his realm in the company of

members of the ruling oligarchy and aristocracy. These exctusions served to exhibit Japan's new government, now centered on a monarch that few Japan-

ese had any real knowledge of, and they gave the Japanese people a sense of connection with its policy makers.” The richly appointed principals plus their impressive retinue attested the well-being and strength of the new regime Dk.alrura‘s goals were not entirely dissimilar. His traveling exhibitions echoed the imperial progress, the visual display meant to establish his school as the principle makers of contemporary art. The artists and lnstitute administrators who accompanied Dkaltura served in a sense as his courtiers, and his insistence that they appear always in traditional Japanese clothing lent their public appearance a kind of patriotic pageantry and panache. Finally, such “progresses,” especially in localities generally shunned by cultural luminaries, and with public lectures substituted for imperial parades, suggests a

desire on Dkakura’s part to project his cultural authority among the Japanese polity (the kokumin} at large. Til. ]bid., p. 43. Tl- lbid.. p. 43. "F2. Carol Gluclt, ..ir.'rprt.n's Modern ll-f_vr.hs.' Jdeoiugy in the Lore Meiji Period (Princeton: Princeton Uni~ versity Press, I935}, pp. ‘J4-T-'5-

Clo. git:



Chapter Five

These exhibitions had an immediate practical ptu'pose as well: as in Tokyo,

the paintings displayed were for sale. Taikan‘s Qu Yttrtrt, for instance, found a buyer while on tour.73 Un.-appreciated in Tokyo, in the hinterlands the Institute exhibitions were unprecedented and welcome events, and the press was good.“ The presence of high-ranking Institute members fiattered local audiences and cast them in the role of art lovers. The lnstitute tended to send its painters to areas where their families had roots, and where, in their role of good will ambas-

sadors. they joined local art organizations. Most ambitiously, the exhibitions themselves were meant to be precursors for local branches of the Japan Art

Institute throughout the country. These satellites, serving as outreach programs emanating from the Tokyo main branch, were intended to implement Instinne educational programs and assist local artists.“ A great number of public and private collections throughout Japan owe their holdings of Institute works from

this period to these traveling exhibitions. Provincial sales, however, were insufficient for the financial needs of the lnstitute and its members. The lnstitute's art journal reproduced the paintings in half-tones for its readership. Newspaper reviews reproduced a much smaller number, typically as simplified woodblock renderings. But the traveling exhibition brought the

paintings themselves to mass audiences. A viewer in Tokyo and a viewer in Akita both experienced the same painting. This diffusion of particular images created mass culture whereby many people would “know” the same object. Scholars such as Benedict Anderson have written on the importance of news-

papers in shaping a shared sense of national conn"nur1ity.""'-i‘ Ukakura aimed to create a mass culture that would recognize his group’s work as leading

the way to modern Japanese art. The decline in Institute energies can be tracked through the traveling exhi-

bitions. ln l9ll'll and I901, Dkakura lectured in a circuit of regional centers. But in 1902, painters were sent out only once, to Kumamoto, unaccompa-

nied by any of the Institute‘s principal members. In 1903, paintings went to Nara, in 1904 to Ukayarna, in each case accompanied by administrative

members, by not artists. The ambitious program to establish lnstitute satellites never materialized. This decline in activity parallels a decline in attendance figures at Institute shows in Tokyo. Viewers and patrons did not accept mdrdtoi as the definition of modern Japanese painting. The new style as sub73. rlomotn .-lt.ts1.tshi,“Zenki Hihon Bijutsu-in chiho junltai tenrankai o megutte,“ itinnpo I4 [November H96): I-ti74. Norrroto Atsushi has collected reviews and notices from these exhibitions, reproducing them i.n a 40page unpublished research document that attests the level of local interest.

75. Etkalcura ltakuco, "blihon Bijutsuin Sendai ten ni te." flitokrrrrt Tension tenses, vol. 3 (Tokyo; Heibonsha, IQTQ}, p. 22?. 76. Benedict Anderson, Imagined t'.'.'om.nutnitie.r.' Reflectiotu on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism

[London and New ‘fork: Verso, l'3l9ll.


. -



Group identity and limovative Style: Mdrdici


ject of vociferous debate certainly helped the Institute to set the art world’s visual agenda, but it did not sell. Gkalrura ceased lecturing in regional centers because his sights were shifting elsewhere. In I902, spurred no doubt by his marginalization in the Tokyo art world, Dkakura began a series of foreign travels during which he made himself into a leading interpreter of Japanese culture. The regional exhibitions provided Okakura with a model for reaching audiences outside main-

stream Japanese criticism. Contemporary Japanese painting, made by Institute artists and transported and sold in the West, provided a new means for Clkakura to define and shape the course of his nation’s art. In a world where

Westem critical opinion impacted all aspects of Japanese life, cultivating an audience abroad for his gr-oup‘s efforts meant not just immediate relief from hard times, but the potential for Okaltura to again assert authority in Japanese art affairs.






Chapter Six as

The Japan Art Institute and Foreign Contacts

As the painters worked to develop a modem Japanese painting, Ukakura provided the rhetoric that inspired and justified their goals and meth-

ods. During the early years of the Japan Art lnstitute, their audience was domestic—.lapanese critics and connoisseurs fluent in the history of Japan-

ese culture and sharply disapproving of their efforts. The situation changed, however, when the audience changed. From 1902, Okalcura began to court

not domestic patronage but foreign, redefining himself as an intemational figure The broadening of the critical arena materially altered the course of Institute members‘ careers. the nature of their work, and ultimately the understanding of Meiji art by later generations, East and West. By I902, the Japan Art lnstitute's situation was dire. Within three years, the lnstitute had gone from ambitious intentions to financial ruin. Programs meant to further its educational and artistic leadership foundered. Members persevered in publishing Nihnn bijutsu, and they continued to mount their semi-annual competitive exhibitions, but plans for regional branches, the

regional exhibitions, and their significance in the Tokyo art world all withered under growing negative criticism. They had hoped to create an institu-

tional structure that would enjoy the same cultural prominence as the government-sponsored art schools, but in the end dteir support was deficient

and their goals went unachieved. Ukaltura’s addresses to the public continued to describe his art institute

as central to the Japanese art world, its members as pioneers of a vital, indigenous new art that would carry the day against stagnant tradition and

alien oil painting. He portrayed their efiorts as the prototypical romantic struggle of the independent and honest seeker against entrenched power, and their




. -



The Japan An Institute and Foreign Contacts


function in Japanese society as the creators of a national painting equal to anything a Westem nation could produce. But Japanese society spurned both rise-go and mfirotni, repudiating both the contrived idealism of the one and the forays into Western-style naturalism of the other. Notwithstanding Ukakura’s insistence that his was the only true path to the future, other Tokyo and Kyoto studios produced a wealth of vital, innovative paintings. Dkalrura clung to a conceptualization of the Institute’s role that few outside his group subscribed to.

Change the audience, however, and the rhetoric could work. Dkalrura, decisively rejected at home, found eager patrons among Western connoisseurs and literati, particularly Americans. They had long feared that Japan, in its attempt to modernize, was in mortal danger of losing its traditions. They saw its native arts as threatened by contamination from Western art and degraded by catering to Westem markets. Westem connoisseurs, appalled by the products of the Machine Age, turned to traditional Japanese arts as the antithesis of all that was shoddy and unaesthetic in modem manufactures. To these dissenters, for Japan to abandon its own fine arts and take up those of the West seemed an abomination. With only slight modification, Ukaiorra and his

mission suddenly found new life ministering to these foreign enthusiasts. The period from 1902 to 1905 was one of great internationalism at the

Art Institute. Americans visited the Art lnstitute, followed by Art Institute members traveling abroad. Dltakura, Taikan, Shunso, and Kanean all embarked upon extended sojourns in India and the West, seeking to deepen their understanding of painting and culture. India was the homeland of Hud-

dhism thus, to explore India*s monuments was to seek after a crucial ingredient of Japan's own past. The West held out the promise of unknown potential and of direct acquaintance with the cultures of the industrialized powers. In 1903, Kanean left for Europe, where he remained until 1905, viewing and copying Western oil painting. Also in I903, Taikan and Shunsfi trav-

eled to India, then, in 1904, they accompanied Ukakura to the United States. The painters‘ critical and financial prospects improved dramatically in the West. The nrfirfitni paintings so disparaged in Japan met with approbation in the West. Westem viewers, loolting at Taikan's and Shunsifs work,

thought that they were seeing traditional Japanese painting because the subject matter was drawn from the life and topography of Japan. And they liked

what they saw because the soft atmosphere and shaded fonns were just what they expected in painted images. Western viewers never realized that rrttirrirrti

was a hybrid inspired by Westem oil painting. Familiar yet exotic, mordr.-:rr' promised American buyers “authentic” images of the mysterious East.

Oltaltura hastened to present his ideas in the West in books, articles, and lectures delivered in English. His experience at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts


. -




Chapter Six

equipped him to lecture on a broad variety of art subjects, Eastern and West-

em. Using Westem rhetorical modes in writings and lectures, he depicted for his Westem audiences patterns of artistic evolution and successive triumphs

of visual style. His systemization and his analogies with Westem masters and movements set Asian art into familiar intellectual structures. Ukaltura used

these opportunities to construct a Japanese art history that culminated with the crisis precipitated by Commodore Perry's black ships. Grounded in the

authority of his research, he put before Westemers the very scenario that few Japanese critics had found compelling: traditional art was in mortal peril from

the twin threats of stagnation and destruction. Clkalcura's presentation of a factionalized art world and of his little band of disciples as the prophets of genuine growth, caught the imagination of Westem readers and served as a conventional truth for decades after. AMERICANS AT Tl-[E JAPAN ART INSTITUTE

By mid-to late century, regular steamship service opened exotic destinations to Westem elites wanting adventure without serious danger. Far-off East Asia offered alien vistas and glorious decorative arts, all in relative safety and comfort.‘ David Scott, in his essay “The Literary Orient," discusses how the Near and lvliddle East developed into romantic travel destinations for Europeans: their appeal, as he describes it, also fits perceptions of East Asia: The East was thus to be explored by the West with an urgency and excitement prompted both by an obscure awareness of the possibility that the mystique of the Orient might not long outlast European colonization and by a need to replenish the cultural resources of Western civilization which, for two thousand years, had been dominated by Christian or classical Greek and Roman myths and archetypes?

Japan had never suffered European colonization but its autonomy rested on

its ability to master Westem technology and diplomacy. Westem critics extolled traditional Japanese art as a potent restorative for contemporary

Westem art, and feared Westemization as a mortal threat to its purity. Westem fascination with Japan was part of a more general cultural trend: increasingly dismayed by many of the effects of “progress,” Western elites l. Henry A.|:la.ms, discussed briefly below, found the accommodations poor and the scent of Tokyo in particular offensive. James Yarnall, “John l_.aFarge and Henry Adams in Japan," American Arr Journrnl, vol. 2], no. l [Derelict I989}: =1-il-1'451. David Scott, “The Literary Orient." The Erm, Jnurginerf. Etperienced, Remembered: Grienrulitr Nineteenth Century Painting (Dublin: The National Gallery of lreland_ I933}, p. 4.






The Japan Art lnstinite and Foreign Contacts


explored—and idealized—their own antique and medieval past. as well as

various contemporary pre-industrial, non-Westem cultures.3 Fenollosa‘s passion for reforming Japanese art was partly inspired by the conviction that sup-

plying a remedy for artistic mediocrity would guarantee Japan’s acceptance as a leading nation.‘ Zoologist Edward Sylvester Morse, who visited Japan

during the years l3'i'?—83, tumed his scientific mind to cataloguing Japanese life because its emsion through Westerrrization seemed so inevitable.5

Most admirers of Japanese culture assumed that prior to the arrival of Perry Japan was “traditional,” unchanging, and Edenic. Industrialization created a

sense of urgency in Americans wishing to experience Japan while it remained authentically “Oriental.” In l8'i'6 tl1e Philadelphia Centennial Exposition first brought awareness of Japan and Japanese art to millions of Americans who were not world travelers. Japan‘s exhibits fed the romantic notion of that nation as exotic and unpolluted by industrialization.5 The American “Japan craze" (a temr coined by Morse] peaked in the mid l83l)s, one decade after the Centennial Exposition, and was fed by imports from Japan and by an abundance of madein-America Japanese-style goods? This American “japonisme" grew in concert with the American Aesthetic Movement, which valorized the integrity of the unique, handmade object, the spiritual quicl-tening engendered by

experiencing art, and the power of art as a positive moral force in society, particularly in the domestic domain.3 Japanese art objects, with their many

applications in the home and their handmade manufacture, well exemplified 3. T.J. Jackson Lears, No Place of Gmee: Antimademism and tire Trartstirrnration ofrlmerican Culture I886-I920 {Chic1go: University of Chicago Press, 1'9'El). 4. William Hosley, in his The Japan idea.’ Art and Life in Victorian America (Hartford, Conn.:

Wadsworth Athencum, I990). speaks to this point when he describes the enthusiastic reception Japanese art received in the United States, Chapter ll. 5. Robert Roeenstone captures the sensibility of such a project in his Mirror in the .".i'.lr.I1'ne: American Encounters with Meiji Japan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, I938), pp. 25'!-fit], where he

recounts haw William Sturg-is Bigclow goadcd Morse into studying the "Japanese organism" lto appeal to scientist Horse) rather than his research specialty of btachicpods. ii. In France, the place where the tenn japouisrne was coined, it was the lSfiT Paris Exposition which first revealed the wonders of Japanese art to a broad audience. The generally accepted dating for the start

of French japonisme is I855, with Fclix Bracqucmond's collecting and disseminating of Hokusai prints in Paris, though the prints and illustrated books were available in Europe well before then. Hosley, The Japan idea, pp. 31, E7. The earliest availability of Japanese prints is discussed by Deborah Jean Johnson, “Japanese Prints in Europe before lflrl-ll," The Burlington Magazine, vol. 124,

no. 5'5] [June I982): 3='lIi—4B.

T. Hosley, The Japan Idea, p- 42. Hosley gives a rich account of American interests in Japanese art in this exhibition catalogue. He discusses the role of art joumalism and outlines the list of publications heating Japanese subjects, pp. 45-46. Edward Sylvester Horse provides a first-hand account

in his Jrtpanese Homes and their Surroundings (Rolland, "r't.: Charles E. Tutllc. I972, reprint of I386 ed.}, p. xxix, where he also applied the phrase "Japan craze“ S. See Doreen Bolger Burke et al., In Pursuit of Beauty: Americans a.nr:i the Aesthetic Movement {New ‘fork: Rizxoli and lvlclropolitan Museum of Art, 193?} for an exhaustive treatment of this subject.






Chapter SL1:

the overarching values of the movement. Art joumalism, both specialized guides to Japanese art and more popular publications on interior decoration and education, widened American awareness of Japanese art and of the

social and personal qualities it was made to stand for in the West. The taste for Japanese-style objects permeated American home decoration, as middleclass shoppers purchased inexpensive fans and curios at dry-goods stores while moneyed upper classes sought out specialty dealers for lacquer, porcelain, and folding screens embellished with gold and rich color.“ A second opportunity to explore Japanese art and purchase objects came in 1383 at the Boston Foreign Fair, where Japan staged a large exhibition of its wares.1“ Edward Sylvester Morse, Boston’s best-known resident expert on Japan, lectured often on Japanese culture during the 1330s. Middle-class Americans explored Japan in department stores; elites traveled to Asia. Japan's growing material presence in American culture helped to raise its culttual profile. Ul-tal-:ura‘s Japan Art lnstitute benefited from the moment, acquiring a coterie of elite American supporters, thanks to Williarn Sturgis Bigelow and Ernest Fenollosa. Both were graduates of Harvard University, and Bigelow, in addition, was an attthentic member of Hoston’s “Brah-

upper class. During the mid to late 1880s, they were sought out as guides to Japan and its cultural riches by members of the Boston elite. These included: astronomer Percival Lowell [I355-1916}; businessman John L. Gardner {$43-93} and his wife Isabella Stewart Gardner [I3-40-1924}, later famed

for her important art collection and museum; writer Henry Adams

rts3s-tats); and from New York, artist John LaFarge usss-1910)." Some

of these travelers, such as LaFarge and Adams, sought in Japan not only beauty but a spiritual antidote to the increasing materialism of industrialised society. In 1833 William Sturgis Bigelow, already resident in Japan, served as tour guide to his old friends the Gandners, who were just beginning seriously

to collect works of art.” In a letter, Isabella Gardner recounted his taking them on a whirlwind tour of amusements and meals: “[He] never seems to 9. The rise of the department store and its effect upon American urban culture is treated in numerous works, including l-losley‘s The Japan ldea, Roger Stein's essay, "Artifact as Ideology: The Aesthetic Movement in lts A.rnet'ican Cultttrttl Context,“ in In Patttait of Beauty," and Lawtertce Levine's Higltbrawt'Lawbraw.' The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy trt America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, I933}. These sources cite more detailed studies of the phenomenon. ll]. Hosley, The Japan Idea, p. 42: Hina Hitayarrta, ‘A Trae Japanese Taste’: Cartttrttettan of Knowledge about Japan in Boston, lB8lJ- JQISU lPl'|.D. diss., Boston University I993}, Chapter HI "Japan at the lE33—lBE-4 Boston Foreign Fair."

I l. LaFarge left a record of his travels in the boolt. an Artist’: Lettersfrom Japan {London and New York: Waterstone and Co- and Hippo-crene Books, I936 '[lE'9l]]l', Lowell wrote The Saul aftlte Far East (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, I358); Isabella Stewart Gardner left scrapbooks now in the collection

of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. l2, ‘Victoria, ‘tithston, East Meets Wis-st: Isabella .‘i'te1-vart Gardner and tlllcaltatra Kala-tad (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1993}.






The Japan Art lnstitttte and Foreign Contacts


have us off his mind for one moment and is constantly tuming up here for tiifin or dinner, or else telegraphing to us that we must go up to Tokio for this or that or the other . . ."l3 During that trip, Gardner purchased a pair of gold-and-color folding screens, the quintessential trophy object, embodying in a single format decorative taste. architectural function, and painting.“ In ISSS, Henry Adams artd John LaFarge traveled together to Japan, where Bigelow [Adanfs cousin) served again as host and tour guide.“ LaF-urge had first encotmtered Japanese art in Europe in the 1350s, becoming one of the first American artists to engage Japanese aesthetic principles in his own cre-

ative work. LaFarge's interests made him an early American expert on Japanese art, his reputation leading to his being invited to contribute an article on

Japanese art to Raphael Pumpelly‘s book Across America and Asia [l3?0).“5 In Japan, LaFarge added to the store of Japanese objects and images he had

previously acquired in France. Bigelow shepherded LaFarge and Admits to Fenollosa, who pontificated on art quality. Adams recounted rather ironically, Fenollosa and Bigelow are stern with us. Fenollosa is a tyrant who says we shall not like any work done under the Tokugawa Shoguns. As these gentlemen lived two hundred and fifty years or thereabouts, to 1860, and as there is nothing at Tokyo except their work, LaFarge and I are at a loss to understand why we canto; but it seems we are to be taken to Nikko shortly and permitted to admire some temples there (July 9 lSS6).'l

Gkakura, fluent in English, met some of these visitors and perhaps also served as their interpreter. Isabella Gardner notes that at one dinner, Bigelow

brought “a Japanese and wife to meet us," who may have been Gkakurals I3. Letter written by Isabella Stewart Gardner, 30 June 1883. Quoted in Morris Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, I925}, pp. 59—t5ll I4. These are tlte Spring and .-lltttuttttt Screens, sold to her as the work of O-gala Ilotin (I658-lTlt':iJ-. The extant receipt indicates tlte purchase was made on July 30. 1833 at tlte Tokyo Ifinshodo. Isabella

Stewart Gardner Museum collection. The screens are now in poor condition and are not exhibited. I5. ‘r'arnall, “John LaFarge and Henry Adartts in Japan." I6. Adams, "John La.Farge’s Discovery of Japanese Art: A New Perspective on the Origins of Japanismc,"Art Bulletin, vol. d'l {September 1935}: 4-ll-9-35. Adants demonstrates that LaFarge‘s collecting

of Japanese prints and his application of Japanese aesthetic ideas to his own work predates French japanisn-re. Hosley {The Japan Idea, pp. SS-90] discusses more fully how Ameticatt artists assimilated Japanese ideas. In the early lBi5lls, LaFa.rge shared his prints with New York latttbcape and genn: paittters at the Tenth Street Studio. Stein, “Artifact as Ideology," p. 3?. Catherirtt: Hoover \loor-

sanger gives a shott account of l.aFarge‘s career in her "Dictionary of Architects, Artisans, Artists. and it-'lanuIa.ctuters," In Pursuit of Beauty, pp. 4-ll-4'9. I T. Quoted in Walter W. Muir, Muremn aftlte Fine Arts‘ Boston: A Centennial I-Iistaty, vol. l (Cambridge,

l'Itlass.: Belknap P't1:ss, l9"lD], p. I19. LaFa|ge; letters, Bigelow to Isabella Gardner, Isabella Stew-

art Gardner Museum archives. IS. Gartlner letter, 30 June ISSJ. Quoted in Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fen-way Conn, p- trill.






Chapter Six

John LaFarge notes spending a great deal of time with Oltaltura in the summer of 1886.‘? The second dedication on LaFarge‘s book, An Artt'st’s Lerters from Japan, is addressed to him: “I wish to put your name before these notes, written at the time when I first met you . . ." References to Okakura dot LaFarge's account, suggesting how frequently they were together. The

very next year, when traveling in America as part of the Ministry of Education's Art Commission investigating Western art schools and museums, Dkakura had the opportunity to renew some of these acquaintaneeships. Bigelow and Fenollosa returned to Boston in 1839 and 1890, respectively, whereupon both turned their energies to building the Asian collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Bigelow deposited his enormous collection in the museum, became an activist trustee. and influenced staffing decisions. Bigelow’s collection, together with Edward Sylvester lvtorse’s collection of Japanese ceramics and FenoIlosa’s collection (purchased by Dr. Charles Goddard Weld and later donated), formed the nucleus of the museum's Japanese collection. Thanks to Higelow’s and l'viorse‘s mediation, the trustees appointed Fenollosa the first curator of the Department of Japanese Art in

1390, a post he held until 1395.1“ Though now based in Boston, Bigelow

and Fenollosa retained their ties with Dltalcura and their keen sense of interest, even mission, in regard to Japan and its art. When Dkakura founded the Japan A11 lnstitute in 1898, Bigelow was an early champion. responding generously to 0kaku.ra's request for financial assistance. Fenollosa remained with the Boston museum until scandal forced his retirement in the last month of 1395; the same scandal ended his welcome among many of the Japanophiles who had hitherto looked to him as an authority. With American doors closing against him, Fenollosa returned to Japan in 1896. In the 13305, he had

enjoyed considerable prestige there as a foreign expert, and doubtless hoped to rehabilitate his career by resuming his former place in the Japanese art world. But there was to be no return to the days of the Kangakai. Fenollosa is not mentioned in documents of the Japan Art Institute, nor was he invited

to serve as critic for the internal competitions. By this point Dkakura was thoroughly in charge and Fenollosa was a visitor. Fenollosa did publish a review of the Art Institute'a first competitive exhibition in the Japan Weekly

Mail, but his role as shaper of cultural affairs was now limited to America, where he lecttlred and published frequently, though as a private citizen and

in less exalted venues than those he had once enjoyed. I9- Quoted in Yarnall. “John La.Farge a.nd Henry Adatlis in Japan," p. 4320. Muir, Museum of the Fine Ans Boston: A Ceritemiial History, vol. l. p. I09; Kojiro Tomita, A His-

tory efthe Asiatic Depameerm Temira Lectures [Ecstatic Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, I990); Anne Nishimura Morse, “Promoting Authenticity: Clltakura lhltuao and the Japanese Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," in tlitakura Tenshin and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston t_l"~lagoyafBo-ston: Museum of Fine Arts and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, l'9"99i, pp. I4-5—.‘.i| .


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The Japan Art Institute and Foreign Contacts


There is some suggestion, though, that Fenollosa did continue to support contemporary Tokyo painting after his return to the United States, through his role as business partner of the Japanese art dealer, Kobayashi Bunshichi (1364-1923)?! Kobayashi‘s ventures were successful enough for him to open branch offices in the United States and Japan. In his catalogue

for an exhibition held in December 1902 in Boston, Kobayashi numbered almost four hundred paintings sent from Japan and one thousand prints from his own collection.” The painters listed include the more traditional of those aligned with the Japan Art Institute. These include Ogata Gekkd, Kawai Gyokudo, both well-known figures, and the relatively unknown Suzuki Kason, Uehara Konen, and Nakajima Reisen.23 All of these painters were

members of the Art lnstitute; they participated in the monthly in-house competitions (see chapter five} and their works were reproduced in Nikon

bijutsu. None of the more radical lnstitute painters, those most active with tndrdtai, appears to have been included. This exhibition might well have sug-

gested fresh markets to the struggling Japan Art Institute that, by 1902, was in dire straits.

Americans also visited the Japan Art Institute. The reforms of 1899 that abolished the designated foreign settlements freed foreigners to travel and settle where they liked. Okakura inherited the pattern established in the 1830s, and the Institute became a nexus where American visitors

found helpful interpreters of Japanese culture. Fenollosa likely directed American artists and connoisseurs to the Institute to learn about the arts of Japan. He introduced the American Helen Hyde (1863-1919) to Kano Tomonobu (1843-1912), with whom she studied painting for two years beginning in 1396, eventually exhibiting with the Japan Art Institute.“ Print artist Emil Urlik (lS'l'D—l932} met Tomonobu through Fenollosa in 1900 and used him as a model for one of his images, Japanese Painter.” Tomonobu, who had been on the faculty of die Tokyo School of Fine Arts, was not himself active in the Art Institute, but he remained something of an elder statesman to the movement. 21. Julia Meech and Gabriel Weisberg, Joponisnre Cartier to America ll'~lew York: Abrams, 1990), p. 49. 12. Kobayaahi Bunshichi, Exhibition Qfloponere Fat‘.-rting -tIJ'it:l' School (Boston, lfil. This catalogue is

in the collection of the Boston Public Library. Ir is, unfortunately, not complete. so a full assessment of this exhibition is not possible. The extant portions of the catalogue list the paintings only to number ESE. The catalogue is inscribed by ltobayashi himself. 23-. Uehara I-Zorren ([365-194D] also worked directly for l'i.DlZtfi]t‘3Sl‘li, making small woodblock prints for the American market Meech, Japantlme Comes to America, p. UH. 24. See lvleech in Japonitme Comes to America, pp. lill-15 for Hyde‘s career. Hyde displayed tl-i'orrarcJ| oflapon, wiruring first prize. honorable mention. 15. Yokohama Bijulsukan, Aria e no Manalio; Gaikokujin t-to altiytr estri taclri (Yokolrama: lililfil, pp. 2l]l—l'i' and Meech and Weisberg, Japonisttre Comes to America for the image of Tomonobu

working. p. 71.







Chapter Six

The Japan Art Institute became a kind of field-n-aining station for budding curators of Japanese art, the fnst being Bostonian Walter Mason Cabot (1872-1947), a graduate of Harvard in 1894 in the field of architecture. Cabot‘s father had been an extensive traveler and had bought a home in Carrton in 1365.29 Wlretlrer Cabot was sent to Japan by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston or impelled there by inherited wanderlust is not clear. Whatever his

motive, he spent ten months in Japan studying art, arriving in July 1393, soon after the lnstitute opened. No testimony remains as to how exactly he spent his time, but he did visit the Institute's first competitive exhibition in October I893 and remained a subscriber to the joumal Nikon bijutsu. Ten months was too short a time for him to have learned Japanese, making it likely that he turned to Dkakura. Upon his return the following summer, Cabot was appointed the second curator of the Japanese collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, a position he retained until ill health forced him to retire in 190d.” At about the same time came Francis Gardner Curtis (lS6S—l9l5), cousin of John L. and Isabella Stewart Gardner and an 1890 graduate of Har-

vard. Curtis was an avid traveler, spending time in Europe, India, and Japan. He made six or seven trips to Japan and was acquainted with Dltaltura by 1399.23 His connection with the Institute was longer and deeper than Cabot‘s. In addition to studying Japanese art history. he leamed to paint well enough to enter the Art Institute's semi-annual competitive exhibitions, exhibiting one painting in auturtm I899 and three in spring 1900; in both competitions he won a second prize.“ He adopted a Japanese-style brttsh name, “Karat” (“misty cottage"). In l%~D3, he spent over a year studying

in Japan—his longest stay. He again exhibited two works in competition and again won a second prize plus reproduction in Nikon bijutsu.3'] Curtis was also integrated to some degree itrto the social life of the Art Institute. for

we know of one holiday spent climbing Mt. Tateyatna with Yokoyama Taikart.-3' Taikan was an ideal travel companion for Curtikbe had good English-language skills and an out-going nature, and was exactly the satne 26. LI-oyd Briggs, ed., History and Genealogy oftire Cairot Family, vol. ll (Boston: Charles E. Good-

spced and Co., I927}. pp. 599-700. 2?. Harvard University Archives, Reports for the Class of I394: Cabot‘s inscription, Niiron Bi_t'rtt.srt. no. I (October lS9S], Rub-el Library, Harvard University; and Muir, Museum tr-fFine Arts, Boston.‘ A Centennial History, vol. I, p. 1215. 23. Curtis cluonology: Harvard University Archives, Reports for the Class of I890, Isabella Stewart Gardnet Museum archives. and Emma Thu.rsby's diary, Emma Thursby Papers, New York Historical Society. The daling for Curtis‘ shorter trips to Japan is urrknown. 29. 'rotya Iioltutitsu Bunltazai Kenkyitjti hen, Mefii iii bittttsa tenranitai .-titttppin n-toizttroittt fTol:yo: Cbtid Itinron Bijutsu Shuppan, i994), pp, Ti, 90- In October I399, Curtis won second prize for Winter Scene, in April l9fll] a second prize for Spring Sea. 3-D. Reproduced in Nikon Bijutsu, no. 45 {October I902]. The painting was St-trtrise, ti theme fully in keep-

ing with the current interest in atmospheric effects. 31. Hagao Masanori, "Taikan no Tateyama tozan ni tsuite,“ Kanpd, no- ii U958}: ll.






The Japan Art Institute and Foreign Contacts


age as Curtis. Back in the United States, Curtis joined the museum staff in I966 as an unpaid associate.33

Others journeyed to Asia to pursue spiritual growth. In 1903, DI-talulra played host to Emma Thursby (1845-1931), a world renowned soprano from New York, and Sara Thorp Bull (1850-1911) of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bull was the widow of Norwegian violinist Dle Bull; Dle Bull and Etmna

Thursby were two of America’s most popular musicians.33 Sara Bull tarried in Japan ordy two weeks before traveling on to India, but Thurshy spent nearly five months there, much of that as Ul' interest in prttnting the nii. inn is. in rendering a unified atmcvsphcnc environment that could ~e:m to :t\cIt!.~e nu the mmpomlionnl oioinonn. Their visits to tltmeums nno galleries appear to have challenged Taikan, In particular, IO taltc n|1'|r6lui further iowinu the nnnnniisin in.-n he had explored in works \I.lClI its his 1900 Rllpfl l1u\‘¢J(Plate I41 nno his I902 Moonh! Sen (fig. 451. As I|‘I inpnn. he was dmwrt tn seascapes. The Sta. onionossa by Edward


5. - .

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The iipsn Art lttslliuie sod Rxetgrt Conan:


Ftgiue 52. Yolwyuna Taikan. The S¢a~Mnar|llghl ll/mt'—¢s||ki akari), mo or l9tis. hangirtg scroll. cottttssy oi|=nton Fine Ans Museum

Jackson Holmes i|| (hmbridgc, is n moody descripticm ofmtlglt Waters under graying sky (plate 20). swiits of water. animated by a soft wind, dissolve into a barely suggested horizon. No clearly defined ronn pnnt.-tnntss the seamless expanse of se: and ahnospllete. More extreme is 3 seascape ti-mt the fomier Thurshy collection that resembles oil painting not only in composition out also in brushwork (fig. 52)."! 11-» S¢lz—MoonIighr (l/mi—rsuIti nkari) is composed of just two compositional zones. Belcrw n very low l\Ot'izun line are only Cresting waves. built up with mottled dotlos or color, dark strokes with white highlights that suggest the loose much of oil on cttnvasl"

The 1-innsoys owned n selsclpe t>y sttnnso IS well. one tltnt reveals t

similar interest in impressionistic and naturalistic depiction. His Seashore tn

Mumivtg sun (Kaihm rhfiyfi) is an exercise in compositional mstotint Ind tontl iunnony (plate 2| 1, Huriwntally oriented. the composition is organized in three registers: at the bottom, butt tones anchor 1 namw slime, then III

=v=n narrower light blue band of warn. finally n vlsl expanse of warm sky.

Fully two-thirds of the painting is sky. articulated through subtle tonal izt This plutllng -no uh: An lnutlule wt-ti lrrln the nn-my zdlcntml ltlitnind In lions lotion. tn; Bum -no tn.-s damn 'l'h=y tniidd sit or lk Inuttule pdntnmt Ind thenvnbtlll to n mm no.4itnntonwmooitsdtoitssotmsssoddtnptotioxnots-oniimosoitpsttonmdtm Fuktu City Mulculn I29 Allotitzrwrnit ontntntsntlsodtomsonnoit n |n|I:lfl:C|lyMiM\||n llh:i|tnpmv:nl||c=,bt|I n ttyltmcolly oi llti> kiwi






Chapter Six

variations that mark streaks of cloud. Dimly visible dn-ough the haze is the barest red ring of the full morning sun. To describe moming calm, Shunso softened the tones and color boundaries throughout the entire picture by overbrushing with the hoke. The only motif described with any sharpness of silhouette is the sun, and even this reveals little of the brush‘s movement. Individual brush strokes, which would reveal the temporal specificity of the painter’s hand, were obliterated in favor of timelessness. Taikan‘s penchant for seascapes and evening scenes reminded one reviewer of the work of James Abbott lvIacNeiIl Whistler [I334-I903}. Whistler had died in I903, after a productive and notorious career, and retrospective exhibitions of his work were mounted in many cities during Taikarfs and Shunso‘s Westem sojoum. The visual similarities between some

of Whistlefs works and morotai are striking, for both favored soft, atmospheric effects, as well as a limited color palette and evocative compositions.

Wlristler experimented with high horizon lines and multiple viewpoints, techniques corrmron to Japanese painting and woodblock prints (which he

collected), while ma.-arm‘ painters and especially Taikan experimented with low horizon lines and a more unified viewpoint. Like his colleagues in the

American Aesthetic Movement, Whistler believed painting to be a forrnalist process govemed by nrles; he referred to it as "the science of color and ‘pic-

ture pattem.’"‘3° The Japanese painters were similarly schooled to study painting in terms of its constituent parts, and this way of thinking opened

both the American and the Japanese painters to influences from outside their immediate cultural and stylistic domains.

Taikan and Shunso encountered Whistler’s work directly in l9'[l4 and 1905. Upon arriving in New York, Ukakura told a Tirrres reporter that he

hoped to visit a Whistler exhibition in New York before proceeding on to Boston, an excursion that surely would have included Taikan and Shunsfr.]3'

The Grolier Club of New York held one such exhibition in April, concurrent with the Japanese painters’ Century Club exhibition. In Boston, Clkakura had access to a Whistler retrospective at die Copley Society in March. In Lon-

don, another retrospective opened in 1905, concurrent with I(anxan’s stay there.'3'2 In Paris, Taikan's and Shunsffs exhibition at the Ecole des Beaux-

Arts was preceded by a Whistler show in Ivlay I905. [33 Testifying to the flexibility of forrnalist training, Taikan wrote in his memoirs of Whistler's work,

"we were made to feel that art has no national borders."'3“ lfill. Quoted in ‘v"oorsanger‘s “Dictionary of Architects, Artisans, Artists, and Manufacturers," In Prrr.rrrr'r qf Bcorrtjv, p. 484 I3]. New York Times, 21] March IQIJ4, Parr Three. p. E1 I32. lwasa, "Hogelsu no lngirisu,“ p- ltlI?-3. London Timer, I9 May I905, p. 4. I34. Taikan. Tnikrmjrldcn H981 [l95l]J. p. Tli.


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AMERICAN PRESS American critics were uniformly enthusiastic over Taikan‘s and Shunsffs

paintings—quite the opposite of tl1e Japanese critics, who had been discomfited by the soft visual effects and the close relationship to Western oil painting. In the United States, the critical framework relied upon a vastly different set of cultural expectations, formal principles, and ideological needs. Mfirtitoi,

in Japanese eyes so visually congruent with oil painting, appeared to American viewers marvelously suggestive of “traditional” Japan. That conception

of Japan was a fantasy fashioned from Western yearnings for a pre-industrial Eden; it was a land where life was permeated by an intuitive appreciation of

daily aesthetic experience Much of the Westem delight in mororni was owing to its hybrid quality, which rendered it simultaneously alluringly exotic and reassuringly familiar. Ma.-stars silk ground and water-based pigment, its color harmonies, and its subject matter assured viewers that they were looking at

Japanese paintings; its graded zones of color, lack of ink contour line, unified atmosphere. and fully painted picture surfaces made these paintings

immediately accessible. But American reviewers never recognized any similarities with Western-style oil painting; for them, these works epitomized

Japanese tradition. Reviewers were guided by Dkakura's introductory essay that reappeared

in the catalogue of each exhibition. Taikan and Shunso were members of the Japan Art Institute, which Okakura explained as “the new old school of

Japanese art," opposed to the “radical reformers" wholly won over by Western art and also distinct from the “conservatives” clinging to outwom tradi-

tions. The Times thus duly noted that Okakura “teachlesl the necessity of putting up a dike against the encroachments of Western ideas in art. . . . In

this he was casting his ballot with the best of foreign observers, who have always deplored the readiness of the Japanese to surrender their own nadi-

tional methods for a superficial adoption of French or German art."'35 “To obviate this threatened evil," wrote Leila Mechlin in Washington, D.C., “the Bijutsuin was established and through its instructors, its lecture courses and

its individual members, it has turned the tide of popular interest back to the art which is distinctly Japanese."135 Apart from the St. Louis exposition of

I904, American critics had little access to contemporary Japanese art; the received wisdom-—which Dkakura obligingly reiterated—was that Japan

stood in mortal danger of losing its artistic soul. Ukakura’s rhetoric teamed with Taikan's and Shunsffs paintings proved that it was the Art Institute that

deserved the credit for averting such a disaster. I35. New Fork Times, 5 January I905, p. T. I36. Ill-lrflrirrgron Evening Star, 15 March I905, Part 2, p. B-







Chapter Six

Reviewers, persuaded of 0kakura’s cultural authority, accepted his assertion of the importance of Taikan’s and Shunstffs paintings. Their paintings, “in which the taste of the old masters reutr-rts,"i3"' in which the painters are “carrying forward the fine traditions of the old masters, but not in a servile. imitative sense,"'33 were good because they retained that essential virtue of cultural integrity. “While we are flooded with modem Japanese art calculated to please European taste. this is the first time the work of revivers of the old classic spirit has been shown in the West”139—such sentiments legitimized Taikan and Shunso as genuine Japanese painters. Their

authenticity was validated by their depictive methods, in which reviewers found virtues that diey thought characterized traditional painting. Thus, they

were masterful in “the fragile preciousness of the colors,"i‘“i and "the shading, the grey tones, the drawing where is never to be seen a brutal line, these

are the characteristics of Japanese talent.""“ Such praise expressed the conventional perception of traditional Japanese art as delicate and decorative.

Another reviewer was more elaborate in defining the classic qualities of Japanese depiction: In the painting on silk by Mr. Shiunso [sic] and Mr. Taikan we find the rare qualifies which animate the best of ancient Japanese artthe probity and purity of design, the employment of simple and slight means to attain high purposes, the personal and refined note, untainted by affectation or straining for effect, great reticence of color but the utmost beauty of tone and atmosphere, and, finally, best of all, the imaginative impulse, which lifts naturalism above tl're conunonplace plane of brutal realism and cnnobles it“:

This appreciation derived from Ukakura’s instruction and from contemporary American taste In his catalogue essay, Okalrura asserted as his disciples motto: “To be true to self, to express what one feels, is our criterion." Reviewers were thus assured that the Japanese painters were not only true to their

culture but were urue followers of their personal creative visions, “artists” in the modern Westem sense of the term. The immediacy of effect, unrnaned

by calculation, derived from the honesty of the painter’s emotions. Western critics of Japanese art in the nineteenth century valued Japanese painting as products of innocence. untainted by materialism and indusII1‘-TI‘, New York Times. 29 April I904. |J. 9. I33. Boston Evening Trunrcr-ipt, lli November I904, p. I3. I39. New Fork Times, 29' April I904, p. 9. I40. lbid., p. 9. ldl- American Arr News, 25 November 1905. This is a review of T1ikan‘s and Shunsofs paintings exhibited in Paris. The reviewer is American, and the sentiment is consistent. 141. Boston Evening Transcript, lfl November 190*-l, p. I3.






The Japan Art lnstinrte and Foreign Contacts


uialization, informed by direct, intuitive connection with nature—qualities much prized in late nineteenth-century America. Much was and still is made

of the openness of Japanese architecntral forms, the agricultural foundations of society, and the importance of nature in Japanese poetry and painting. Taikan and Shunso met with approval because their images fed this perception arrd gratified American longings. Their works were praised in terms that

suggest an immanent relationship to their subject: “The poetry of many of these transcripts from nature,""i3 and “Wonderful for their suggestiveness,

the grandeur of their composition and their utter naivete."i""' All of the works that so appealed to modem American viewers presented nature, hushed and

mellow, in reductive compositions, offering visual respite to Americans surfeited with the density and brilliance of Victorian interiors. Above all, Taikan‘s and Shunso’s paintings moved reviewers to romantic effusions: ‘These are dream countries, where trees, mountains, fields and roads, even human beings are impalpable.""‘5' James Henry Moser ( I354-I913), a painter of note and reviewer in Washington, wrote, “The alluring delicacy of these pictures is an enormous factor in their popular acceptance and is created, in some examples shown, entirely by the dreamy, vague, atmospheric qualities of the silk itseIf.""*5 Though Moser perversely credited the silk with the atmospheric effects created by the painters, he correctly understood that the appeal of the works lay in their distance from the harsh

clarity of reality. The Black Mirror reviewer, also a painter, wished that “we oould have all learned our art in the shadow of Fusiyatna {ML Fuji]."H7

Whether perceived as drearnlands or as conjurations of a distant, alien, ethereal land, the paintings gave Americans access to pre-industrial experienoe.

No American reviewer recognized how greatly mororoi differed from t:raditional depictive methods, despite its patent differences from works such as

those of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), the Tokugawa-period painter and print designer who epitomized Japanese art for so many Westerners. None

was cognizant of the absence of ink line. While noting the painters’ restraint in the number of colors used, none saw as unusual the use of many tones of a single hue or the ubiquity of shading. Occasionally the word “impressionistic” was used, but without any specific reference to the French painters of that appellation, or any sense that plein-air effects like theirs were rnost unusual in Japanese painting. Several reviewers resorted to the word “nocturrre" to describe effects of waning light, but only one reviewer suggested 143- New York Timer, ‘Z9 April I90--‘l, p. 9. I44. Bosrorr Euerring Tmrucript, I8 November I904, p. I3. I45. Ant-erictzrr Arr News, 15 November I905. T.J. Jackson Lears discusses llre noise and the over stim-

ulation of urban American life in his No Pia-re q,fGrnce, pp.-17-515. I46. James Henry lvloser, iltzthingron Fort. 2o March I905, p. 4. 147- Bide]: Mirror, p. 43.


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Chapter Sir

a connection to ‘Whistler, and then tentatively and with the caveat that “art

lovers declare that Japanese painting has not been affected by occidental influences."'43 Indeed, to suggest that Taikan and Shunso had any interest in the methods of Westem painting would be to forfeit their authenticity as true Japanese painters and thereby to compromise family their efficacy as redeemers of Westem taste. Ironically, it was Vflristler and oil painters who since the ISQUS had pre-

pared the way for Western appreciation of mararat. Whistlefs misty seascapes and Thomas Dewing’s dissolving figures and thick atnrospheffl.

even Puvis de Cbavannes’ painterly figures set in idealized landscapes, uained Westem eyes to enjoy morotnfs abbreviation of formal description.“§' Their paintings transmuted familiar realities into dream landscapes, vested by their viewers with powerful spiritt.|al meaning and authentic emo-

tion. Applying color in zones to serve an overall design scheme and the hazy atmosphere characterized the work of both the Japanese and the Western oil painters. Japanese painters working in Western styles further trained American eyes. In 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston displayed watercolors

by two Japanese painters; scenes of Japan rendered in water-based pigments struck Atnerican reviewers as consonant with Japanese tradition, despite the

painters‘ reliance on Western stylistic conventions.'5“ The erthibition’s success prompted half a dozen more exhibitions of Japanese watercolors and oils in Boston and New York during the period l9{l(l—l9U2. Reviewers praised

these works for their simplicity, pleasing color harmonies, and picturesque scenery—virtues ascribed to morotoi as well. The vistas painted by all of

these painters, their themes and subject matter distanced from mundane American experience, answered to Westem fantasies of an Edenic world.

Figural subjects did not reap equal praise or even elicit a comparable amount of comment. Westem critics tended to disparage Japanese figure painting in general, seeing it as subject to conventionaliaation so extreme that it verged on caricature. Western viewers expected the figure painter to

idealize the human form, using methods that support the illusion of threedimensionality. The frequency with which Tail-tan’s work was discussed,

rather than Shunsefs, was partly owing to the preponderance of figure paint— ings in Shunsffs oeuvre. In mfirfitai style, incidental figures often have a

doll-like quality that disturbed Japanese critics as well, and the shading of major figures does little to invest the subject with vitality or energy. Among I45- American Art News. 25 November 1905.

149. See Jennifer Shaw's “Imagining the Motherlartd: Puvis dt: Chavannes, lvloclemirm, and the Fantasy of France.“ Arr Bulletin. vol. Llfltll-.’., no. 4 {December I997}: 536-610 and Pyne, above. I50. Gerald Bolas, “Arnerican Responses to Western-Style Japanese Painting,“ Paris in Japan-r.' The Japanese Encounter rt-"it'll European Frrrhtirrg tSt. Louis: The Washington University, 198?], pp. l5-lb.


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the few comments made included: “What might be called genre . . . have not the charm of the above-mentioned [landscapes] ' 51 Morotai landscapes are evocative. inviting viewers to project themselves into their timeless tranquillity; figrual subjects, their significance unicnown to Westem viewers, were simply baffling and ultimately, uninteresting. SHAPING WESTERN PERCEPTIUNS Art lnstitute ideas, expressed by Oltaltura in writing and lectures and rep-

resented in painting by Taikan, Kanzan, and Shunso, helped shape Westem perceptions of current issues in Japanese art. In America, it was more than just the newspaper reviewers discussed above who represented the Art Institute as the sole champion of Japan’s traditional painting. American cultural critics who relied on DI.-talrura‘s authority, proclaimed the same view. To this day, the conventional image of the Meiji period represents traditional painting as in serious decline until the painters under Dltakura’s mentorship led the way to its revitalization. In the first decade, Meiji art was predominantly Westemizing, as Japan moved purposefully to adapt Western technologies of all types. The second decade is seen as one of backlash, a retum to traditional values led by Ernest Fenollosa and {Jkakura Kalruzo. This convenient generalization elides much of the complexity and creativity of the period, but it served the purposes of its two main propagators, Fenollosa and Ukakura. Ultakura perpetuated the fear that wholesale adoption of Westem styles remained a vital threat to tradition, and in America he repeatedly represented the Tokyo School of Fine Arts as compromised by the inclusion of Westem-style painting and sculpture in its curriculum, though one of his early designs for art infrastructure in Japan had provided for such a program.

Ulcakura’s writings in this period, the 1902 article for the Studio magazine, Ideals of the East (l9{l3), Awakening of Jnpnrr (1904), Book qr’ Ten

(1906), plus lectures such as the one delivered at the 1904 St. Louis exposition, consolidated in flowing English prose a view of contemporary Japanese

an that many Westemers found compelling. Okakura was one of the first Japanese to discuss Japanese art in English and he did it with an air of thoroughgoing authority. To quote Stefan Tanalra: “Knowledge here claims authority over its subject. By rendering an external object comprehensible within one’ s

own conceptual system, one has defined, and authorized a certain view of that object, and it is within this field of knowledge that one acts."152 With

I51. New Yuri: Tr'me.r, 19 April llillil-1, p. "5'. I52. Tanalta, Japan’: t'Il'rr'ertt.' Rendering Pn.rr.r into Hrsrorjv. p. 22.







Chapter Sir

few competing views available to Westemers, Ukakrrra did much to circumscribe the terms in which Japan‘s art history was to be understood.

0kakura’s legacy was perpetuated in other authors’ works and in his training of museum professionals. Ulralcura renimed yearly to the United

States and the Museum of Fine Arts until his death in 1913. Working with him for the museum were, for various periods, lacquer artist Rokkaku Shisui,

sculptor Clkabe Kakuya, and Niiro Chunosuke (lStiS—l95-4), a specialist in object conservation. They were living proof of the Art Institute's dedication

to preserving Japan‘s artistic traditions. Francis Gardner Curtis worked as Okaltura’s assistant, rurnring the Japanese department during Dkakura’s fre-

quent and extended absences. William Sturgis Bigelow continued to donate objects to the museum's Japanese collection and helped to raise funds for Clkalrura to use during purchasing expeditions in Japan and China, as did Edward Jackson Holmes and his extended farnily.'53 Americans writing on Japanese art perpetuated Clkal-:r1ra‘s ideas. Walter Mason Cabot, who studied in Japan in 1393 and was appointed ttre second curator of Japanese art at the Museum of Pine Arts (1899-1902), published “Some Aspects of Japanese Painting" in the Atlantic Monthly in I905. Cabot‘s article discussed Japanese painting in atemporal terms, as the manifestation of an innate Japanese aesthetic sensibility, which he framed in terms redolent of Dlcalrura. According to Cabot, the heart of that sensibility (though he

did not use the term) is "kokoro nrochi,” fidelity to the subject's outward form joined with penetration of the subject's essence. Cabot invoked Clkakura's

interpretation of painting principles formulated by sixth century Chinese critic Xie He, The first of these is “The Life of the Spirit through the Rhythm of Things:" art being then regarded, in Mr. (Jkakura‘s words, as "thc great Mood of the Universe moving hither and thither amidst those harmonic laws of matter which are Rhytlrm.“'5“

To Cabot, Xie He's first principle meant that all art is subject to “certain immutable laws of composition," an idea fully espoused by Dkakura. Cabot

surveyed Japanese art for its peculiar strengths, praising it for its economy of means, its naturalness, its mastery of design, its harmony, all qualities assigned by the newspaper reviewers to Taikan and Shunsr':i’s work. Their American

paintings lacked only one feature that Cabot admired: line, and the expressive 15?-. Morse, ‘Promoting Authenticity: Olrakura Kalruzo and the Japanese Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,‘ pp. 14?-43.

IS4. Walter Mason Cabot, “Some Aspects of Japanese Paiming," Atlantic Monthly (June 1905]: 306. Punctuation follows the original.






The Japan A11 lnstitute and Foreign Contacts


potential of line. In this, Cabot would have likely preferred works like those of Hashimoto Gaho, whose paintings were often noted for their linear vitality. While Taikan and Shunso were being discussed in city newspapers, Gaho and his contributions to the Sr. Louis exposition were lauded by Charles Caffin in the American edition of the Studio. '55 Caffirfs praises perfectly echoed Dkakur.a‘s ideas: on the meaning and importance of lcolroro nrochi (here named as such), on the immediacy of Japanese artistic expression, and on the romantic struggle of the traditionalist against the tides of Westemization. And, in precise consonance with E)kakura’s dicta: “not only that he [Gallo] stands for the continuance of Japanese ideals, but also that he has injected into their art a new, living spirit. He has reconciled the modern feeling with the best traditions of the past." Caffrn modeled his article on points appearing in Ideals ofthe East, fleshed out to more fully depict Gaho’s career. one is, Caffin asserted, “recognized by his countrymen as their greatest living painter,"l5‘5 as indeed Okakura had declared in l'denl.t.]57 Referring his read-

ers to 0ka.kura’s book, Cafiin deplored the Japanese fascination with Westem style but remarked that Gaho's paintings augrued well for the future. Caffin’s recitation of Gabe‘ s career fined neatly into Okakura’s construct of Japan‘s art history during Meiji. Just when Craho won status as an independent rnaster, Japan embarked upon its programs to modemize and Westemize: “The essential of the time was material, and literature and fine arts for the present languished.”153 Destitution forced the budding master to take jobs unworthy of his stature; his fortunes changed when he, l-logai, and Okakura joined the Ministry of Education and then the faculty of the new Tokyo School of Fine Arts. The point of view is conventional: traditional art

suffered under the early Meiji infatuation with things Westem, which began to recede in the mid-l83t]s. Renewal of esteem for traditional art culminated in the Japan Art lnstitute, properly named Nippon Bijutsuin by Caffin, with. he says, Gaho at its head. “The object of this institution is to revive the lost ideals of Japanese art, to stem the irnush of Westem methods of painting, and to place upon their old-time footing of dignity the arts of the workers in

lacquer, metal, pottery, wood-carving and the kindred cr'afts."'5‘5' Certainly the A11 Institute was a leader in methods of conservation and a vital center for creative engagement with traditional style, but in 0kakrrra’s polarized por-

trayal of the contemporary Japanese art world, echoed by Caffin, the Institute was the sole bastion of rational progress. I55. Charles Caffin, “Hashimoto Gaho: A Modern Master of Japan,“ The intemational .5'tr.r.dr'o, American Supplement, vol. 13, no. 91 {September I90-ll: CCCLJ-CCCLIX. I56. lbid., p. CCCLJ. 157. Okakum. The l'deal.t oftfre East. pp. 230-3l153. Caffin, p. CCCLJJ. 159. [bit:l., pp. CCCLII, CCCLIV.







Chapter Six

The most important American interpreter of Japanese painting was Emest Fenollosa, Dkalt|.tra's forrner teacher and colleague. Fenollosa had been the

first curator of the Boston museum's Japanese department during the 1390s. He lectured widely in the United States and in England from 1892 until his death in I908. 1'5“ He saw himself as a kind of prophet, working for t.he reform of American society through spiritualism and art."'51 He wrote articles, exhibition catalogues, and reviews, but his most important work was his Epachs of Chinese and Japanese Art. drafted in 1906 and completed posthumously by his wife in 1910. Like Okalrura‘s Ideals trfthe East, Fenollosa’s book was dedicated to proving that East Asian art—-and especially Japanese art—was in no way inferior to Westem, a thesis that Fenollosa supported by many analogies with Western art.l"51 Many of their generalizations are identical, but Fenollosa’s book, significantly longer than Dkakura‘s, devotes much more space to art movements and individual works. This commonalty characterizes only their rhetoric; by the late 1390s, the two men were estrangedClkaltttra had his authority as an art expert to protect, attd in his review of

the Museum's Japanese collections, Okakura declared Fenollosa’s cataloguing to be fraught with errors. But in their writings on Japanese art history and in their philosophical outlooks, the two remained very close. More forcefully than Dkakura in Ideals of the East, Fenollosa argued for the universality of art. As might be deduced from his painting curriculum (see chapters one and three), which compartmentalized painting into its formal components, Fenollosa believed that all art could be appreciated through

the same set of standards. Okaltura believed that as well, but his book emphasized the distinctive qualities of "Asian" culture. Dkalo.1ra began his test with “Asia is One,“ Fenollosa with “No national or racial art is quite an isolated phenomenon." Fenollosa sought connecting threads not just among Asian cultures but also between East and West, for he envisioned a Utopia achievable through cultural synthesis. “I say firmly. that in Art, as in civilization generally, the best in both East and West is that which is common to the two,

and eloquent of universal social construction.""53 Fenollosa devoted considerable discussion to the possible origins of the Chinese and Japanese people, pointing to commonalties in the ancient art of tnatty parts of the world. For

Dkakura, the origins of the Japanese were “lost in tl1e sea-mists out of which ttrtl. Sec Chlsholnfs Fenollosa: The Far East and Anrern-an Culture for an account of Fenollosa‘s career. ltrl . Emest Fenollosa, “My Position in America," l ll.-‘lay llil'9l , Fenollosa Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University {bl'v'lS Am l?59.2.trl'l]| "I must lrere become a preacher and prophet appealing to all that is noble and inspiring in man‘s existence . . I62. Both Ideals of the East and Epachs of Chinese and Japanese An, 2 vols. {l"'lew ‘fork: Dover, I9-ti-3, reprint of the revised [913 edition) deserve fuller discussion than room pemtits here. individually and comparatively, they are fascinating documents. I63. Fenollosa, Eporlts of C'Jrt'nese and Japanese Art, p. Z.

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they spra.r1g.”"5"' He briefly noted various possible ancestries, all in Asia, but quickly left the subject in favor of defining the ancient Japanese character. The two authors share one remarkable prejudice. Both books purport to

relate both Japanese and Chinese art history, but conclude their history of China with the end of the Southern Song dynasty (c. 112?-1279), a recitation that fits both men‘s basic orientation toward and support for Kano paint-

ing. Both locate the zenith of Chinese achievement in the Song, with the paintings of Mu Chi, Xia Gui, and Ma Yuan as its best exemplars. In their view, all later Chinese art was a decline from that height. That decline they atn-ibuted to the trauma of the Mongol conquest and rule, followed by the constrictions of a hide-bound Confucianism, enduring into the present, that suffocated the vitality and individualism needed to create great painting. Fenollosa in particular had only disdain for later Confucian scholars, con-

derruring them for their control of Chinese government, their institutionalization of rigid and static social conventions, and their literary rather than visual engagement with painting. In Fenollosa‘s view, the torch of creativity was tal-ten up by the Japanese, who treasured Song art and built upon it while

Chinese elites repudiated all of Song painting, resenting their approbation solely for a self-consciously amateurish mode call literati painting [wen-jen hrta}, which Fenollosa dismissed as “trivial unimaginative pen-play.”'55

Fenollosa's book posits a stylistic genealogy in which the achievements of Japanese painters Shubun (fl. 1414453} and Sesshfi (1420-1506) derived ultimately from the teaching of emigre Chinese painters fleeing the Mongol invasions. The émigres, hailing from the countryside, were supposedly untainted by the growing Chinese fashion for literati painting and brought with them the true inheritance of Southern Song accomplishment. Sesshfi, Sesson (ca. 15114-ca. 1539), other ink painters of the Ashikaga period (1336-I573), and finally the Kano school were not just Japanese interpreters of a Chinese style but its only legitimate heirs."5"5 The ideals ofthe East does not mention Chinese emigre painters, but simply claims that Japanese painters brought the art of Southern Song to its apogee.i57 Both authors believed Japan to be the

repository of East Asia‘s highest artistic achievements, making it the logical womb of a modern Asian painting. In denying an art history to post-Song China, both authors were asserting China’s failure as a ct.rltLtre—-an assertion

that chimed with contemporary prejudices against China as a subjugated and fractured political entity. I154. lti5. ltirti-. I67.

Olraltura, The ideals tgfthe Ea.-tr, p- 14. Fenollosa, Epoch: of CJn'nese and Japanese Art, vol. 2, p. I46. lbid., pp- 172-8-'5. illltaltura, The ftfeals rtftlte East, pp. ITS-T9‘.

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Chapter Six

Clkakura in Japan had encountered multiple cogent challenges to his pronouncements regarding Japanese art and artistic training, and formidable opposition to his attempts to become the doyen of contemporary artistic practice. In America, he found his opinions approved and himself lionized. For the American intelligentsia, Dkaltura came to embody classical Japanese values. Those Americans interested in Japanese art and culture had few guides to either antique or contemporary Japanese art besides Okalarra and his students. Framing his ideas in familiar terms, drawing analogies to the unassailable progenitors of Western style (the Greeks) and to individual masters eun'ently in high esteem in the West (Raphael, Tum-er), Clkakura made

Japanese art at once comprehensible and equal in worth to Western. His work in Boston remained fruitful and gratifying: he wrote, he catalogued the Museum of Fine Arts’ collections, and he mixed with Boston's cultured elite.

His temporary position at the museum turned into regular employment when in 1905 he became “adviser” to the department. He accomplished this in part by arguing that “the scholar in charge of eastenr works ought to be the right one, and that would be the point of view of the east."'53 That person was

Crkaltura, scholar of Eastern an and authentic representative of Eastem culture. The wheel had come full circle: in the '8U’s, when Okalrura was an insignificant bureaucrat. the American Ernest Fenollosa was a celebrity in Japan; by 151115, Fenollosa was marginalized in both countries and CJka.k1.tr'a

was emerging as the standard bearer of Japanese culture in America. ln his role of cultural mediator, (Jkaltura advocated a judicious modernism, one embodied more by the work of Gahfi than by rnfirfitai. Gab-5's

stylistic roots were Kano; his work was innovative but it possessed formal elements, including expressive line, that identified it as Japanese. Cllralrrrra steadfastly supported his disciples, but he was never wholly enthused about

marotai. For different reasons, both the Japanese and Western Japanophiles demanded of contemporary Japanese art that it remain authentically Japanese. Marotai, drawing deeply upon formal values identified as Westernshading, atmosphere, and naturalistic form—was recognized and castigated as a hybrid in Japan, but mistaken to be quintessentially Japanese and hailed as such in the West. Ukakura’s painters were not aware of the irony that was forcing them to question the national character of their painting. How could they fulfill their responsibility to Japanese society if they could only win approval from foreigners and not from their fellow countrymen‘?

I63. As quoted by Morse in “Promoting Autl'r-cnticity," p. I45.

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Return to the Cultural Fold

Residing in a foreign country makes one acutely aware of one’s own cultural identity. Contrast throws into high relief the texture of daily life, the assumptions of social intercourse, the culttual and aesthetic fabric of society. Abroad, Taikan, Shunso, and Kanzan were constant cultural ambassadors, relieved of that role only when alone or exclusively in the company of fellow Japanese. World travel brought them not only the discovery of things foreign but also the self-conscious awareness of their own construction of Japanese identity and style. At once partisans of Japanese tradition and pioneers of modernity, they found travel in the West a seminal experience that put the question, What is it that makes us Japanese painters‘? Ar home, their innovations in painting were grounded in the familiar surroundings of Tokyo life. Hut while in America and Europe, their experimentation with Western method became suddenly problematic—subversive of Japanese-ncss—just as many Japanese critics had charged. The painters returned powerfully aware of their culnrral identity, having explained it and defended its worth to curious Westemcrs. Newly sensitized to the cultural interpretation of painting, they became not agents of fusion but defenders of tradition. Ukakura continued to cultivate a bifurcated career. He retained his Position as director of the Japan Art Institute, but as a half-time resident in Japan his role was much diminished. His credentials derived from his status in Japan, but his fame and prestige were now due largely to his work in the United States at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He nurtured relationships with prominent social figures such as Isabella Stewart Gardner, added to the museum's collections, and continued to lecture and publish works on


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Japanese culture for English readers.‘ But while Dkakura turned his attentions westward, the painters under his mentorship sought recognition at home. All of Dlcakura’s activities in the United States served to heighten American appreciation for Asian culture, but they could do nothing to enhance the Institute painters’ prestige in Japan. Gradually, Taikan, Shunso, Kanzan, and their colleagues at the Art Institute abandoned the hybrid mfirdtai to seek new inspiration in traditional styles of Japanese painting,

thereby becoming, once again, "Japanese" painters, recognized by Japanese audiences as such. Okakura‘s movement succeeded as a “modemizing practice of traditional painting," due largely to the refashioning of its members into Japan-

ese painters. Their travels in the West transformed Kanzan, Taikan, and Shunsd. Kanzan, joined by his close colleague Kimura Buzan (1376-1942), restored ink line in his work. Still drawn to color-dominated painting, these

two turned to the Heian period for inspiration, but manipulated its stylistic elements for fresh effect. Taikan and Shunso tried once more to win acceptance for nrorotai by claiming for it indigenous roots of the highest cultural order and by retreating from the extremes of naturalism. In the end, they relin-

quished the hazy uniformity of nrorotai for the clarity of patent brushwork. BEAST CULTURE

Travel in tl1e West was full of dicbotomies. Immersion in a foreign culture was bewildering, frustrating, and alienating. At a personal level, though. the painters found friends in people such as Ina Thursby and Arthur Morrison.

Thursby had studied at the Art Students’ League in New York and had joined her sister in Japan in I903; she was well-equipped to appreciate her foreign friends. She invited Clkakura, Taikan. and Shunsfi repeatedly to her home,

practiced English with Shunsti, painted with Taikan, and corresponded with them after their retum to Japan? Monison, an avid collector, oriented Kanzan to London's cultural institutions and bought his paintings. Likewise. the Gardners, who had traveled to Japan, and their cousin Francis Gardner Cur-

tis, who had studied with Ctkakura there, were generous hosts to the Japanese visitors. ln a new year's card to his brother-in-law, Taikan wrote, ”Here in America, everyone has welcomed me . . . I was warmly received by

friends."3 I. This includes Clkakura's best known book in Errglish, his l'!J'll6 The Honk of Tea [New York: Dover, 1964}. See also, Dkakura Kakuzfi, [Jkaknra TensJrin.- Collected English llrkitings, ed. Stlnao Hakemura et al. (Tokyo: Heibonsha, l'ilS-Ill. 1. The Emma Thursby Papers, The New-York Historical Society. Also, Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku Shiryfikan collection3. Reprinted in Jfanpa. no. 6 {June l9'Sli]-: 5.

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Much more of Taikan‘s missive home, however. was devoted to his unpleasant impressions of the United States in general. In Taikan‘s words, America was characterised by “beast-culture.’“‘ “Here I am, in the nation of money," he wrote, “l am quite depressed about America; it is different from what I thought it would be."5 Party to the constant rhetoric of East and West and its potential fusion, he was not ready for the reality. Shunsti, too, was “dumbfounded.” A letter to his brother characterized America as full of busincss people. He noted its skyscrapers and railway systems, but also polluted air and garbage everywherell In their 1902 appeal for travel funds, Taikan and Shunso assumed that they could only benefit from experiencing the West. Once in the United States, they saw only a society devoted to the acquisition and display of wealth. In recalling the Century Club sales, Taikan remarked in his memoirs,

“In America, expensive works are thought to be the best,“ a criticism implying that Americans equated quality with price? Taikan also asserted that America had no art of its own,3 echoing Okakura, who had told his St. Louis

audience, “We of the East often wonder whether your society cares for art. You seem not to want art, but decoration—decoration in the sense of subjugating beauty for the sake of display. . . . The paintings that cover the walls are not of your choice, but those dictated by fashion."9 If Japanese were stereotyped in these times as an aesthetically acute “race,” Americans, in the Japanese view, lacked any innate sensitivity and urgently needed what Asian culture had to offer. Personal experience did not extinguish the painters’ interest in and appreciation of the West, but conuningled with these sentiments was an awareness of alienation and a renewed sense of being distinctly and proudly Japatlese. Even while making paintings that demonstrated their receptiveness to their host environments, such as Taikan‘s The Sea (plate 20) and I{anzan‘s copies of Westem works, the painters were at the same time growing more nationalist in dreir views. Taikan’s stylistic naturalism, inspired by Western paint-

ing, was at its height in 1905 as he began addressing himself in writing to the need for Japanese to improve their national efforts in global trade. Kanzan studied the masterpieces of Western art available in English collections, but on retuming to Japan embraced native traditions of figure painting. Their 4. lbid. 5. lbid. 6. Letter, 10 June I904. Shimo-ina lilyoikukai hen, Cnzlakane Taro, ed., Hi.i-Julia .‘iimn.-.-it srlgfi rtenptr

(Nagano: Shimo-ina Iityoikukai, I974}, p. IIIIE. T. ‘rbkoyatna Taikan, Taikan jirien, ed. ltubota lnayoshi (Tokyo: ltli-tlarrsha, 1981 [1951]], p. 68. El. Yokoyama Taikan, “Chawakai ni okeru Taikan-shi no kdgai,“ Nihan Bijutsu no. 7"! (August l'E'El5_l:

55-59. '9. Ctkalrrtra l'liakt1zfi, “Modertr Problems in Painting,“ Collected English Writings, ed. Sunao Hakamura et al. (Tokyo: Heibonsha, I934], vol. 1, p- T4- The punctuation is ’Clkakura‘s.

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positions were, in fact, coming closer to Oltal-tura‘s. Oltakura had pressed for judicious technical borrowing fmm Westem painting, akin to tl1e technological appropriations of the Meiji regime, but insisted on preserving the essen-

tial cultural integrity of the work. Morfirni, by violating that boundary, afforded Dlcakura little grounds for praise. He had sent Taikan a11d Shunsti to India to deepen their understanding of Asian art, but in reality it was experience with its opposite, Westem art, that drove home the merits of Japanese aesthetic traditions. “Beast culture" made Japanese painters of Taikan, Shunso, and Kanzan. FOREIGN TRAVELS AND THE GROWTH OF NATIONALIST THOUGHT

From abroad, the painters began to grow into their roles as important members of Japan's art world. Their ettperiences under Dkakura had taught them

the power of rhetoric and of public events. As Dltaltura focused increasingly on Western audiences, his ideological mantle in Japan was assumed by the painters, particularly Taikan, who was not reticent in either speech or print.

From their hotel moms, Taikan and Kanzan sent missives home for reprint in their respective institutional publications. Kanean, never much of a writer. nevertheless felt it his duty to share his experiences with his Art School fellows. With Ukalcura largely absent, Taikan, supported by Shunso, became the voice of their movement in Japan. Dltajtura had trained them to be public artists, and their sense of responsibility was broad. Though members of a vestigial organization, a Japan Art Institute that existed virtually in name alone,

they engaged the issues of the day as though they were empowered to direct the course of Japanese art. Karlzan’s reports were published in the Art Inst1'tute’s Nikon bijutsu

(Japanese Art) and in the Tokyo Bijutsu Gnkko koyfikai geppo (Tokyo School of Fine Arts Monthly Alumni Report). Kanzan was gone a long time, and these bulletins home helped to lteep him visible in the art world. In his open letter announcing the end of his studies in England and preparations for con-

tinental travel, Kanean expressed the great pride he had felt as a Japanese abroad as his country won battle after battle with Russia. '0 In the interview prior to his departure from Japan, Kanzan avowed only pride in his nation

and its artistic heritage; the purpose of his stay in England was not to rectify some deficiency in Japanese art but rather to enhance its excellence. Taikan took the offensive in essays and speeches addressing the history and future of Japanese art. Three pieces, written in 1904 and 1905, reveal Tail-tan‘s transformation into an ideologue, bent on guiding developments ID. Tfiiryri lEil:jnt.tt.r t'iFr.'t|lt.|liri kriyiiltoi geppd, vol. 3, no. 7 l_l'vlay l'EJ'Cl5}: l-15.

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within his cohort and among Japanese artists. In these essays, Taikan became the defender of tradition, and in this role sought to justify his own work in terms of cultural continuity. Taikan had O]-zakura as precedent, but Okal-tura afforded two contrasting models. In America, Dlrakura was a fairly conservative defender of tradition; in Japan, he took a “progressive” position by advocating experimentation with Western methods in traditional painting in order to keep the tradition vital. Taikan continued to practice this progressive method while at the same time donning the ideological mantle of a conservative, a combination that required a radical redefinition and repositioning of the descriptive naturalism of mororoi. Tail-tan*s views were widely publicized. His first two pieces were commented on in the art press, and the third, which he co-authored with Shunso and titled Knigo ni rsrriie (About Painting), was published as a pamphlet by the Japan Art Institute and reprinted in full by the journals Kaigo soslri, Tokyo Bfinrsn Gokko koyrikoi geppo, and Biintsu shinpo." Tail-tan’s first piece, “Wogo lrogeihin no kerren" (Deficiencies of our Craftworks), closely follows the content and argument of Clkal-rura‘s “Modern Problems in Painting," the speech he delivered at the St. Louis World's Fair with Taikan in attendance.” Tailtan‘s piece was published a scant two months later, in November 1904, soon after his inspection of the fair‘s exhibits in tIJkaltura‘s company. Ostensibly Clkaltura was addressing a Western audience and Taikan a Japanese one, but both discussed Japanese arts and crafts as representatives of Japan abroad. Both named the Japanese fascination with Westem art as the prime agent in what they identified as the destruction of their culture. Both believed that Occidentals did not value “true” Japanese art, i.e., fine arts, because they saw only cheap or debased products designed as decorative objects for export. Here two issues were unconsciously entangled: the quality of Japan‘s exports. and the type of Japan's exports. Western markets avidly consumed Japanese decorative objects but not Japanese fine art, and Western stereotypes acclaimed the decorative virtuosity of inferior “crafts” while ignoring or disparaging Japanese “fine art.“ The effect was to trivialize Japanese culture in Westem critical opinion. Oltakura’s goal in St. Louis was to persuade his American audience to re-evaluate die quality of Japanese culture. Taikan’s audience was Japan-

ese elites, and l1is aim was to convince them of the need to improve the quality of .lapan‘s exports of art objects of all types. While internationalist in their ll. Yoltoyama Tailtan and Hishida Shunso, hfoigo nl Lruire {To-ltyo: 1"-lihon Bijutsuin, 19115). Reprints: Koigo soshi, no. 2'15 {January llilllfi}: I-3; no- 225 {February l‘ElClt‘i}: 3-5; Tokyo Bijutsu Gokko koyikoi

geppo, vol. 4, no. 5 lFehn.1ary I906]: 9|-95: Bijutsu rninpo, vol. 4, no. 20115 January I906): 3 and vol. 4, no. El {El} January lllllfil: 4; Jfolrko, vol. lo, |1o. 139, pp. 117-23. I1. tilltakura, “lvloderrt Pmb-l-ems in Painting," Collected English Wrifings, vol. 2, pp. 62-30, and ‘roitoyama Tailcan, “Wage ltogeihin no ltetten,“ Nr'hon Bijutsu, no. TU [November 1904): 2li~3l.

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scope of engagement, both were focused on national interest and enhancing Japan’s prestige abroad. No longer was Clkakura presenting a u-ipartite scenario, with himself and his followers pointing the fruitful Ivliddle Way. In tIJkakura‘s speech, Japan was split between progressives and conservatives, the fomier urging Westerniaation for the sake of progress, the latter fearing the shattering effects of Western irurovation on the integrity of Japanese tradition. till-takura and his followers were now conservatives. With the Russo-Japanese War in the backgrotmd of his own and his hearers* consciousness, Dkakura made the analogy between art and weaponry: progressives, who argued that excellence was represented by Western accomplishment and academic realism, saw traditional Japanese painting as “at one with the bows and an'ows of our primitive wa1'fare,——not to be tolerated in these days of explosives and

iron-clads."l3 But the conservatives, himself among them, saw their painting as “by no means the simple weapons to which they are likened, but a potent machine invented to carry on a special kind of aesthetic warfare."1'* Taikan, treating Japan, the West, and international trade, was nearly as

reductive. Taikan chastised his fellow artists for debasing themselves in the pursuit of foreign markets, and condemned Japan's handling of exports. which determined the face of Japanese culture abroad, as faulty in three respects: inadequate support of art ventures by business and government; poor training of Japanese artisans: and the pemicious influence of Japanese artists returning home from study abroad.l5 Taikan asked. Why is it that the many artists who travel abroad don't seriously study Japan? They discard our distinctive. lofty Asian ideals and are fascinated with the vulgar principles of the West. Why do our artists foolishly study to copy their forms, rather then persevering in study of our surpassing Eastem ideals?“

ln his practice of painting, Taikan was himself then employing a naturalistic style inspired by his American surroundings, while in his pronouncements on painting he was rapidly becoming an advocate of a "purely" Asian art, a culmination of Asian religions and styles just as Dkakura had outlined in his Ideals of the Eost.

At stake, Taikan declared, was Japan’s international reputation. The west‘s image of Japan was being formed by the vulgarized, poorly made arts and crafts supplied by Japanese exporters to Westem markets. Taikan argued I3. I4. I5. ts.

Dkakura. “lvlodem Problems in Painting.“ p. Tl- The punctuation is {)ltaltura's. Ibid.. p. TB. Taikan, "Waga lzogeihin no ltetlen," p. ES. Ibid.. p. so.

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that both maker and consumer were damaged in this process, makers by their alienation from tradition, consumers by their enforced ignorance. Occidentals had to be educated to understand—and to want—u-ue Japanese art, that is, objects in whatever medium that expressed their maker's artistic sensibility. Such a body of educated Westem consumers would be good for trade and vital to winning intemational regard from colonial powers. Japanese artists studying abroad had a duty to teach their hosts about the art of Japan. Dkal-:ura’s English writings likewise aimed at educating Western consumers to repudiate stereotypes of cheap, decorative Asian goods. Dkakura‘s speech in St. Louis also deplored the evils of conunercialism: “Competition imposes the monotony of fashion instead of the variety of life. Cheapness is the goal, not Beauty. The democratic indifference of the market stamps everything with the mark of vulgar equality."" The very genres favored by Westem collectors—out of ignorance—were inferior: “Japanese art has not yet been presented in its true light to outside nations. . . . Our painting is still known to you through the color-prints of the popular school, and the flower and bird pictures which represent the prettiness, not the seriousness of our artistic efforts.“l3 Dkakura‘s deuigration of rrkiyo-e and lcochogo jibed thoroughly with Westem critical standards and served Ukakura’s own interests well. By disparaging other important categories of Japanese art, he effectively implied that historical figure painting and landscapes, genres his painters specialized in, comprised the trite apogee of Japanese fine art. Both Ukakura and Taikan condemned the export of shoddy goods as a betrayal of the nation. Taikan called on businessmen and industrialists to devote their capital to u-ue Japanese art and thereby enhance Japan's image abroad, particularly given Japan’s heightened international celebrity in the Russo-Japanese War. “blow, our country should try to bridge the ideals of Eastem and Western civilization. In art, both artists and industrialists need greater prudence and conscience as regards the West, in a time that, for the future's sake, requires discretion.""-ll This was no longer a call for fusion, but

rather for a particularieation of cultural assets accompanied by mutual understanding. 0k.akura‘s "sympathetic" borrowing fmm the West, as he phrased it in ldeols of the East, was nowhere in evidence. Not adaptation but preservation was the theme now.

l Upon retuming home in I965, Taikan described for his fellows at the Japan Art lnstitute what he had learned in the West. Reprinted in Nihon bijutsu, it was called Chowokai ni okertr Taikan-shi no Jcogoi (Mr. Taikan’s IT. Ultakum, “Modem Problems in Painting," p. BU. Clltaltura's emphasis. IE. lbid., p. TBI9. Taikan, “Wage ltogeihin no ltcuen,“ p. 3|.

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lndignation at his Homecoming P'arty).2” Turning to the venerable example

of the fifteenth-century painter Sesshli, Taikan asserted that, just as Sessha found no suitable painting master in his travels in China, he had found nothing of value to be learned in foreign studios. Japanese art already encompassed all that was needed for superior painting. Western art could be entirely

dismissed, save for English painting, which he characterized as “not frivolous and empty like French. English art is done very seriously, with composure and dignity."2l Taikan must have owed his good opinion of English art. and particularly of English watercolors, in part to reports from Kanzan, for he himself had been in England only briefly. Obviously, a “serious” art, made by a world leader in commerce and conquest (and an island nation], recommended itself to Taikan and his fellows, for whom true art was necessarily

freighted with high national purpose. An encounter (very likely apocryphal) with an Occidental painter is made occasion for a pat defense of Japanese culture: “‘Why don’t you use shadows?’ I answered, “Why should we have to‘? Wlrat makes shadows important?”’12 Shadows help a viewer to read three-dimensional form and indicate light sources, and are therefore a basic element in academic oil painting. Taikan challenges the assumption that painting shadows is essen-

tial to proper depiction, although in his own painting he labored to create naturalistic light effects, including shadows. His own work is “Japanese,” explicitly different from the norms of Westem painting. “Starting with these simple, limited colors, do we not splendidly transcend nah1re‘?”33 In that

grandiose rhetorical question, Taikan was invoking kolcoro mochi against the realistic depiction of outward fonn. For many Japanese painters working in traditional materials, realism was suspect because it was perceived as intel-

lectually shallow. By asserting that his shading was essentially different from that of a Westem painter, Taikan was attempting to make rnorotoi native and penetrating. Thus began the process of redefining and rehabilitating—de-Wmterrrizirrg

—nrorotoi. Morotoi had originated, in part, from the painters wish to describe plein-air effects, for which they had tumed to ‘Weste-m methods as inspiration. Realism, i.e., using the techniques of painting to create the illusions of solid

substance, recession into space, and natural light, was to be found in Asian as well as Westem painting, but in Japan it was considered the hallmark of Western method. No longer comfortable with that equation, yet unwilling to abandon nrorotoi, Taikan and Shunso in their l9'l]5 essay Koigo ni tsnite (About ill- ‘rolroysrria Taikan, “Chawakai ni okcru Taikan-shi no kogai,“ Nihon Bijutsu, no. T9 (August I905): 55-59. 2|. lbid-, p. 55.

22. lbid., p. 515. 13. lbid., p. 5?.

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Painting} recast morfitai as native to Japanese painting. ln Ukakura-like fashion, they constructed a painting history for Japan starting with the origins of depiction, in which mdrfitui was shown to have an organic place Realism and the depiction of forms with color rather than line were defining aspects of their painting style, and both, they declared, were well founded in traditional painting. “Making lifelike fortns from what we see" had always been a feature of Eastern painting, they asserted?“ Their appli-

cation of realism to traditional Japanese painting was in response to its current weaknesses, “the best emergency treaunentf“-5 But Asian realism was not to he confused with that of the West. They differed in two profound ways. First, Asian realism was a device, not an aesthetic end, whereas the goal of European painters was merely to create illusion in paint. Here again, kokoro mocha‘ is invoked as the highest excellence of painting, in comparison to which realism is a “small art." The desire for art “comes from a dissatisfac-

tion with nature, which means you must go beyond nature. Painting is fundamentally only a suggestion.“2“ Realism without koitoro mochi produced only lifeless simulacra. Second, Taikan and Shunso charged that Westem painters did not even practice proper realism. They based their paintings not on observation of nature but rather on the works of other painters.” Therefore their works could not but he superficial. In lodging this censure, Taikan and Shunsti were conveniently silent on the role copying had played in their

own training. ln Knign ni tsnite, the two painters stoutly defended their practice of “excludlingl the use of line except outline, and striv[ing] to create pictures through harmonies of color."23 Indeed, outlines are frequently apparent in

their depictions of architecture and other objects requiring clarity for definition, but they otherwise favored soft silhouettes rendered through shading. And that absence of line made their work seem alien to most Japanese.

Taikan and Shunso sought to defend mfirfitai by associating line with explication and color with harmony, and using music as an analogy, awarding harmony the higher value. Explication, they said, is a simple process, making form and narrative plain. Color is the element that invests the painting with

life: color “stimulates and appeals to intuition, so colored paintings create a pleasant sensation because one can lose oneself in tl'tem.“2“ Color, not line, evoked aesthetic and emotional response.

24. Yolcoyama Taikan and Hishida Shuuso,Kot'gt1 Hf truite (Tokyo: Nihun Bijutsuin, 1905} p. 3.

as. lbid., p. 2. 16. EQH

pp. 2-3.

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More importantly, color versus line had nationalistic import. Coloristic painting, according to Taikan and Shunso, directly descended from Japanese painting tradition. “Paintings that mainly use color are perceived as Japanese paintings, as works that embody the characteristics of Japarrese-style painting (nthongn). Absent these characteristics, you have a distortion of Japanese-style painting, which is basically an art of color."3“ They argued that color had dominated Japanese painting until the introduction of ink painting from China; line-based painting was thus alien, and “we should not accept this as defining our country‘s unique art.“3' Thus, deftly, Taikan and Shunsfi tarred line-based painting as alien, upstart, and the creation of a now-

abject China, while exalting color-based painting as indigenous and venerably antique. And further supporting the superiority of color over line, they declared, “Line, which is limited, does not express the unlimited"33—an opinion that flouted centuries of Japanese connoisseurship. They even declared that the Kano school, though founded upon Chinese ink painting, acknowledged color to be the inheritance of the Japanese painter—-a statement that would surely have given Gahfi pause.-33

Their me-stat was thus perfectly Japanese, and moreover traced its ancestry to the celebrated seventeendr-century painter Dgata Korin (lt':i58—l7l6; fig. 4). Korin, a brilliant progenitor of the style that bears his name, Rinpa (literally, the Kdrit: school), was a master of coloristic, sumptuous paintings. Work-

ing during Japan*s Tokugawa-period isolation fmm intemational contact, he was (and is) often seen as a purely Japanese painter and was thus admirably ser-

viceable, by both circumstances and painting style?“ Thus, for the agenda of

Taikan and Shunso: “triumphant in the limelight, perhaps first and last, comes Ktirin, using unique, light colors for coloristic impressionism {iroteki t'ttrhfilio)."35 All of the best advances in contemporary painting had derived from this lineage, they declared. Westemers attributed ‘1lVl1istier's admired japonistvte

to Rinpa inspiration; in fact, ‘Wlristler drew his inspiration from woodblock prints that employed similar aesthetics. Claiming the illusuious Korin as their progenitor, Taikan and Shunsft relabeied themselves as traditional painters. 3t]. 31. 32. 33. 3-ll.

lbid., p. ti. Ibid-. p. Blbid., p. 9. lbid., p. 9‘. This need to identify with an "authentic" Japanese culture, a culture originating in the E-do period, is a harbinger for cultural critic Kuki Slrtieo (1338-lildll and his ideas conceming "ilti“ in the 19305. S-ct: Leslie Pincus, rltttftenticoting Culture in lnterutur Japan: Iftt.i.'i Slrtizci curd the Rise oft: Notional Aesthetics {Berkt:lt:y; University of California Press, l99Et'l. 35. Taikan and Shunsfi, Eotgc tti tsuite, p. 9. In Fenollosa's 1906 Epoch: of Chinese and Japanese tlrr,

he very neatly asserts the same thing: ""t'es, we may call this ltorin school the Japanese school of impression.“ vol. 2. p. 123- l-le also uses the term itnpressiortism to describe Shijo-school at.|ncspheric effects.

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The canonization of Kt'1rin, particularly as an “impressionist,” requires

some explanation. Whether Taikan and Shunso had any idea what “impressionism” meant in stylistic tenns is not clear. They knew Wl1istler’s work. and they referred with some regularity to the Barbi:-tons. but it is difficult to say what they meant by “impressionism." The United States in 1904 would not have been the best place for the Japanese visitors to see Impressionism, not perhaps was London. Their visit to France was brief, and in travel they tended to seek out the famous museums open to the public, where lmpres-

sionist works were not yet to be seen. Furthermore, the modifier, “iroteki" (coloristic), suggests that they were not speaking specifically of the lmpressionist style. since Impressionism was by definition “coloristic.” The linking of Kftrin with “impressionism” likely derived from a string

of Westem histories of Japanese art. Timothy Clark, in his “The Intuition and the Genius of Decoration,” points to Louis Gonse‘s L1-itrjopoaois of I883 as the first Western publication to characterize the work of Clgata Kt3|in.3“

Writing during the height of joponisme, Gonse attempted to present Japanese art as more than just woodblock prints and lacquer. In his passage on Korin, Gonse hailed the painter as: peut-etre le plus original et le plus personnel des peintres du Nippon, le plus Japonais des Japonais. Son style ne Iessemble at aucun autre ct désoriente an premier abord l’oeil des Européens. . . . C'est ie combie dc Fimpressionnisme. du moins. entendons-nous. dc Fimpressionisme d'aspect, car son execution est fondue, légere et lisse; son coup dc pinceau est etonnement souple, sinueux et tranquille.

Gonse declared Korin the quintessential Japanese painter; Taikan and Shunso concurred. But the “impression” that Ctonse purported to see in Kdrin's work

is connected tenuously at best with the work of Claude Monet and his compatriots. Korin and Rinpa are characterised by a pure use of color and curvilinear form, but the colors are often applied as opaque patches of single tones,

utterly different from the hosts of related tones rendered in masses of diffused suoltes that the Impressionists used to capture plein-air effects. Rather, Gonse seems to be using “impression” to denote a direct apprehension of nature on the part of the painter.

Gonse’s passage on Korin was reprinted, in the original French, by English authors William Anderson in Pictorial Arts oflopon (I 886) and Arthur 35. Timothy Clark, ‘“'I‘he Intuition and the Ctenius of Decoration‘: Critical Reactions to Rimpa Art in Europe and the USA Dtuing the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” in Rimpo Artftottt the Idemitse Collection, Tokyo, ed- ‘Fund Yamane. Masato Naild, and Timothy Clark (London: British Museum Press, I995], pp. I59-12.

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lvlorrison in The Pointers of Jopon (1911), thus perpetuating the association between Korin and “impressionism." Ernest Fenollosa, in reviewing Gonse’s book in 1884. challenged much of Gonse’s explication of Japanese painting. but praised his assessment of Kfirin. Fenollosa adopted Goose's terminology

in his own Epochs of Chinese ortd Japanese Art (drafted I906, published 1912), calling Rinpa “the true Japanese school of ‘impressionism."’37 Fenollosa explained: “It is neither realism nor idealism, as we ordinarily misuse these words; it attempts to give an ovemrastering impression, a feeling vague and peculiarly Japanese. . . 3'3“ Rinpa‘s emphasis on formal design and corresponding disregard of perspective, and its predilection for a heavily pattemed picture surface, was expressed by Fenollosa thus: “rocky trees, clouds, figures, masses of blooming shrubs, all became magnificently placed spots of scarlet, purple, orange, olive, yellow. . . As applied to Rinpa, the word “impressionism" meant two things to Fenollosa: the artist’s subjective distillation of a motif, its “impression” upon him, and a technique that deployed color so as to create strong panems.39 The linking of Rinpa and impressionism came home to Japan with Clkal-tura‘s 1902 {dents ofthe Eost, where he wrote, “This school [Rinpa], foreshadowing modem French Impressionism by two centuries. . . ."""" Being unimpeachably Japatlese and yet simultaneously an “impressionist,” Ki-rin made an admirable stylistic ancestor for Taikan and Shunso in their campaign to pmve morotoi a legitimate heir of the trative artistic tradition.

But the painters were slow to realise Kt5rin‘s usefulness to their cause, a tardiness likely owing, again, to the example of Dkakura. Writing in Ideals, Dkalcura reserved his praise for the earlier Rinpa painter, Tawaraya Sotatsu, condemning Korin thus: “through his very ripeness, [he] degenerates into formalism and posing.” Between 1902 and I904, the year he arrived in America, Ukakura was evincing a new and growing appreciation of Karin, based no doubt upon the latter‘s popularity among art-loving Americans. Dealers frequently attributed questionable decorative folding screens to Korin—lsabella Stewart Gardner, for instance, believed that her first Japanese 3?. Fenollosa, Epoclts. vol. 2, p. 12?. 3-ii. lbid-, pp. I1’?-iii3'3. Fenollosa is generally dismissive of all E-do-period painting, seeing in it either the revival of past style or weak experimentation. He names only Hon'ami Koetsu f l55B—lt53?), one of the progenitors of Rinpa style, as equal to major masters of past periods. Fenollosa organizes Edo painting into titvo categories: aristocratic and plebeian, the aristocratic comprising liarrb, Tosa, and Rinpa painting. {_Epoch.r, vol. 2, chapter four1een.'} This organization alone attests to his regard for Rinpa, for while

he found Kano painting much weakened in the Edo period when compared to earlier periods, he was still its partisan. Fenollosa praised Rinpa, which he preferred to call the “l(.oyetsu" school. for

its originality and splendor tvol. 2, p. I215}-"J-GI- Okaltura ltakuzo, The Meals of the E-ttst, With Special Reference to the .-‘irr of Japan, intro. Sister Hivedita tkutland, ‘v'L and Tokyo: Tuttle. I955 [l9t]3]l, pp. I93-94.

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painting purchase, a pair of screens, were the work of Korinf“ As early as “Notes on Contemporary Japanese Art," published in March I902, Oltaltura was already brandishing Korin’s name as an ear-rnark of artistic merit, characterizing Shimomura Kanzan as “a fine student of the Tosa School, who has struck a new vein of Kor-in-like impre-ssionism.”42 In I904 and I905 Ukakura was invoking Korin in the catalogues for Tail-tan's and Shunsi5‘s American exhibitions; Kfirin situated the paintings in a lineage of known quality.“ In other words, when Ctltalnira began using Korin’s name as a convenient cipher, meaning to Westem audiences “authentically Japanese and eitcellent," his disciples Tailtan and Shunso followed suit. JAPANESE BARBIZON

Back in Japan in 1905, Taikan, Shunso, and Kartzan found a nearly abandoned Japan Art Institute. Profits from their painting sales abroad were insufficient to support its programs, and its membership drifted away. The semi-annual eithibitions had dwindled in scale and in audience. Gabe, who had been left to carry on the Institute’s mission, had quit, as had Kfigyo, and the others followed their lead. In his address at his homecoming party, Taikan not only deplored study abroad as a waste, but castigated his audience, and Ciahfi in particular, for failing Ukakura and failing to persist in their mission.

As an emergency measure, Ultakura reorgariieed the Art Institute, separating the sculpture and painting sections. Members of the sculpture and applied

arts sections, which did research and conservation of objects, were dispatched permanently to Nara, the site of much of their work. The painting section remained in Tokyo, its truncated bureaucratic structure staffed by Taikan, Kanaan, Shunso, and Kimura Buzan, another Art School graduate and close confederate of I