* Only a portion of the collection is shown.
Takeji Fujishima was born in September 1867 in the city of Kagoshima as the third son of a retainer of the lord of the Satsuma (Kagoshima) Fief. He entered in 1882 the Kagoshima Middle School, while learning brushwork techniques from Togaku Hirayama, an artist from his hometown. In 1884, Fujishima went to Tokyo, where he became a pupil of Gyokusho Kawabata and studied Japanese traditional painting. However, he later switched to Western-style painting, which he studied under Yukihiko Soyama and Hosui Yamamoto. He exhibited Cruelty under the name of Ikunosuke Shirataki, a younger classmate, at the third Meiji Art Association Exhibition in 1891. This painting garnered high praise from Ogai Mori, novelist and influential art critic. In 1893, Fujishima moved to Tsu City to take up a position as assistant instructor at Mie Prefectural Elementary School. With the firm backing of Seiki Kuroda, Fujishima became an assistant professor of the Tokyo Art School's Western Painting Department when it was established in 1896. Also in that year, he joined the White Horse Society (the Hakuba-kai), which was founded by a group of artists that included Seiki Kuroda, and exhibited his paintings at its annual exhibitions.
In 1905, Fujishima traveled to Europe and studied under Fernand Cormon at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris in France and Carolus-Duran, President of the Academie de France in Italy. Cormon's speciality was historical paintings, while Duran excelled in portraiture. On his return, in 1910, Fujishima was nominated Professor of Tokyo Art School and became a member of the Imperial Art Academy (the Teikoku Bijutsu-in), as well as a member of the jury for its exhibitions, known in abbreviations at the Tei-ten. In 1937, he received the very first Order of Culture (Bunka Kunsho), a decoration given by the Government to those who have contributed greatly to the development of art, science and other fields of culture, along with Saburosuke Okada. By this time, he was considered an elder statesman among Western-style painting circles.
This painting depicts a sandy beach, with weeds in the foreground, a calm sea in the middle and Enoshima Island in the Background. The painting is an outstanding example of pleinairist technique. According to some records, among the eight oils he exhibited at the third exhibition of the White Horse Society in the autumn of 1898, all except Lakeside depicted coastal scenes. A work entitled Morning beach depicts exactly the same scene as appears in this painting, although the angles are slightly different.
In addition, the signature 'T.Foudjishima' at the bottom right is identical to the spelling Fujishima used in his early period, for example in Girl, exhibited at the Meiji Art Association's exhibition in 1895, and Brook in sprint (watercolor), shown at the first White Horse Society exhibition in 1896. Therefore, this work was almost certainly produced in 1898.
Most of the works produced during the early days of the White Horse Society have been lost. Those remaining include only Morning beach, a variant of this work, now in the collection of the Museum of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Lakeside, which was shown at the third exhibition, and also at the Paris Expo in 1900, Artificial flower, shown at the sixth exhibition, and a few others. This painting is thus an invaluable example of the work of Takeji Fujishima in his early White Horse Society period.
Born in Saga, Saburosuke Okada started as a painter when he joined the school of Yukihiko Soyama in 1887. In 1891, Okada became a member of the Meiji Art Association. In the following year, he joined the Taikokan, and studied under Masaaki Horie. Through Keiichiro Kume, Okada became acquainted with Seiki Kuroda, and joined the Tenshin Dojo. In 1896, when the Western Painting Department was established at Tokyo Art School, Okada was appointed an assistant professor.
Around the same time, he became a founding member of the White Horse Society. In the following year, Okada traveled to France as the first Japanese to study abroad under government sponsorship. Like Seiki Kuroda, Okada studied under Rafael Collin. Upon his return in 1902, he became a professor at Tokyo Art School. In 1912, he joined with Takeji Fujishima to found the Hongo Institute of Painting, where he trained a large number of painters. In 1937, he received the first Order of Culture along with Takeji Fujishima.
Employing elegant technique, Saburosuke Okada painted a number of beautiful women. Even when he painted Mt. Fuji, the surface of the famous volcano looked like a woman's skin. According to one of his students, Mr. Kazuo Tamura, now a famous painter in Japan, Okada concentrated on painting people and did not paint landscapes unless it was familiar to either Okada or his friends. Thus, although we are unable to pinpoint the location, the marshy landscape depicted in this work must have been familiar to him.
This painting was produced in 1919, seventeen years after Okada returned from France, where he had came under the influence of Pleinairisme. We can see traced of his master, Raphael Collin, in the clear colors which receive the cool morning light, and in the elegant purple used in the background and in the trunks of the trees. The curving lines of the trees, which seem to surround the marsh as they extend from the foreground into the distance, reminds one of Claude Monet's famous painting, Les peupliers de l'Epte (The Tate Gallery, London).
According to the complete catalog of Okada's works compiled by Mr. Tamura, Okada produced as many as 32 oil paintings in 1919. In what was a seminal year for this painter, he was also appointed a member of the Imperial Art Academy (the Teikoku Bijutsu-in) and received the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays.
Eisaku Wada was born in the village of Tarumi, In Kagoshima Prefecture. He studied painting under Yukihiko Soyama, Naojiro Harada and Seiki Kuroda, and graduated from Tokyo Art School in 1897. While a student there, he helped found the White Horse Society (the Hakuba-kai) in 1896. In 1899, Wada traveled to Europe, going first to Germany and then to France, where he studied under Raphael Collin. In 1902, on his return, he became a professor at Tokyo Art School. Between 1932 and 1935, he was the school's president. He served as judge at the Art Exhibition of the Ministry of Education (the Bun-ten) since it started in 1907. He became a member of the Imperial Art Academy (the Teikoku Bijutsu-in) in 1919. Later, he was appointed a Court Artist ( the Teishitu Gigei-in) and head of the Imperial Art Academy's Institute of Art (Teikoku Bijutsu-in Fuzoku Bijutsu Kenkyujo). In 1943, Wada received the Order of Culture and he was later chosen to become Head of the First Department of Japan Art Academy (the Nihon Geijutsu-in). Wada's style displayed typical academicism based on accurate depiction of the subject. His best known works include Evening of the ferry (1897) and Hometown reminiscence (1901) (Both in the colleciotn of the Museum of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music).
The White Horse Society was founded by Seiki Kuroda in 1896, after he left the Meiji Art Association. This school produced such masters as Shigeru Aoki and Takeji Fujishima. Most painters of the Society were greatly influenced by Kuroda and his master Collin, and produced many attractive paintings of elegance, clarity, moderation and excellent color tone.
Characteristic of these paintings was the use of purple. Eisaku Wada excelled in his ability to offer a realistic depiction of the natural setting in front of him.
This work was produced in March 1926. It depicts the kind of traditional Japanese landscape that is hard to find these days, given the advancement of urbanization. The work thus suggests the feeling of comfort felt in one's hometown. Wada has also conveyed the naturalness of early spring.
Torajiro Kojima was born in the town of Nariwa, Okayama Prefecture, in 1881. He went to Tokyo to become a painter in 1901, and was taught by Seiki Kuroda and Takeji Fujishima at the White Horse Society and Tokyo Art School. Around this time, Kojima absorbed the European Impressionist style. The techniques of the Impressionist school are seen in such early works as 'Village water mills' (Ohara Museum of Art), which won Kojima the First Award at the Tokyo Industrial Exposition (Tokyo-fu Kangyo Hakurankai) in 1907, and 'Garden of mercy' (which was later purchased by the Imperial Household Agency).
Sponsored by Magosaburo Ohara, Kojima studied in Europe ---- where he had so much wished to go ---- for two years starting from 1910. While in Europe, he came under the influence of the Impressionists. This painting, 'French forest', which is thought to have been produced around this period, reminds us of the works of Pissarro. Even after he returned home, Kojima continued to exhibit works at the Paris Salon and was chosen to become a member of the Salon de la Societe Nationale.
Kojima is also well known for forming the Ohara collection. The Ohara Museum of Art was established in 1930 in Kojima's memory, and many of his works hang there.
Tsunetomo Morita was born in the village of Tamai (now known as Kumagaya City), in Saitama Prefecture. Aspiring to become a painter, Morita came to Tokyo in 1901, where he first studied at Fudosha, a painting school organized by Shotaro Koyama. However, in the following year, he entered the Western Painting Department of Tokyo Art School, from which he graduated in 1906, and advanced to the post-graduate art research institute. In the following year, however, he left the institute and began publishing the art magazine Hosun, with Hakutei Ishii and Kanae Yamamoto. The magazine became a vehicle for his illustrations and opinions on art. Also in 1907, his Lakeside was selected for the first Bun-ten. In 1908, Morita joined a magazine company, Sunday, where he was responsible for producing political cartoons. In 1911, he joined the Imperial Newspaper Company (Teikoku Shimbun-sha) in Osaka, but soon quit and returned to Tokyo. Between 1914 and 1915, he traveled to Europe to study paintings and came under the influence of Cezanne. When he returned in 1915, he joined the Nika-kai, but quit in 1917. In 1916, he joined the Japan Art Institute's (the Nihon Bijutsu-in's) Western Painting Department, but in 1920 he again dropped out, this time with Misei Kosugi and Kanae Yamamoto, who helped him found the Shun'yo-kai in 1922. From mid-career, Morita produced many paintings in India ink and demonstrated his strength in painting poetic rural landscapes such as the plain along the Tone River. In the meanwhile, with the founding of Imperial Art School (Teikoku Bijutsu Gakko) in 1929, Morita was appointed head professor of the Western Painting Department, where he taught many painters. His best known works include Castle ruins (1916) and Heiya satsu (1928, Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art). In 1934, his posthumous collections were published under the titles of Tsunetomo Gadan (On the Paintings), Ga seikatsu yori (A Painter's Life) and Heiya zappitsu (Miscellaneous Essays on the Plains).。
Reflecting the influence of Cezanne which he felt during his stay in Europe, this small painting is a structurally accurate depiction of grapes. Although Cezanne was known to have painted apples, pears, peaches and cherries, he painted very few still lifes of grapes. Furthermore, Cezanne used fruit as a motif to examine the existence of substance or to construct space, while Morita appears to have used grapes to express the refreshing feel and beautiful colors of fruit. In this, the work is similar to Monet's painting entitled Nature morte aux fruits (1880), which hangs in the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg. In this sense, the work has a touch of the warm, sentimental, Impressionist style.
Torao Makino was born in 1890 in the village of Takagi (now called Takada City) in Niigata Prefecture. As an elementary school student, Makino was a boy who hated to lose and who worked hard at school. A very unruly lad, he was often involved in fights. He was an expert kite flyer, particularly when it came to avoiding electric wires.
The was very inventive. Once, he and fellow students at school decided to produce a circular. Makino landed responsibility for doing the cover and illustrations. Young Torao carefully cut out the colored parts from a cheap picture book, dipped red, yellow, green and purple colored paper in water, rubbed the papers, and extracted the colors he needed to finish his paintings. By the time he had advanced to the third grade of the middle school run by Jugo Sugiura, he was aspiring to become a painter. His enthusiasm took him to see Seiki Kuroda, watercolors in hand, to seek the master's instruction. Seiki Kuroda was playing a leading role in Western-style painting at that time.
In 1908, Makino entered Tokyo Art School and studied under Kotaro Nagahara, Eisaku Wada and Takeji Fujishima. Fujishima was known to be a very stern professor. However, the professor had no harsh words for the young student. In 1912, while in the fourth grade of the art school, Makino visited Chosi in Chiba Prefecture to do some sketching with his fellow student. Based on these, he painted two works and sent them to the Bun-ten. Both were selected. The work by Takeji Fujishima, by Hanjiro Sakamoto, and by Sintaro Yamashita were also selected, but the fact that Makino had two of his works selected alongside the work of these masters while still a student is clear evidence of his talent. His style of painting was unique; he never copied the styles of others in his life.
From his first selection at the Bun-ten, Makino went on to receive Third Prize in 1915 and the Special Award in 1916. He was granted automatic selection in 1917, and won another Special Award in 1918. In 1919, the Bun-ten was discontinued and the Imperial Art Academy was newly established. The Academy organized an exhibition which came to be known at the Tei-ten. In 1922, Makino was selected to be one of the judges of the Tei-ten and qualified for automatic acceptance at all future exhibitions.
Later in his career, Makino belonged to the Kaiju-sha, the Ogen-sha, and the Rokucho-kai groups (in that order), and released works every year. Since joining the Rokucho-kai (literally means the Six Tides Society) in 1930, his paintings increased their radiance and their style changed slightly. Through the same group, Makino came into contact with such Japanese-style artists as Heihachiro Fukuda, Gakuyo Nakamura and Hoshun Yamaguchi, and was spiritually and technically influenced by them. In 1929, Makino became Professor of the Western-style Painting Department of the Imperial Art School. Later, he participated in the founding of the Tama Imperial Art School, where he served as Chief Professor of the Western-style Painting Department for the rest of his life.
This painting is a depiction of a mountain in Hakone. Kanrei landscape (1939), now in the collection of the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, closely resembles this work. Around 1936-37 Makino traveled to the second house of an acquaintance in Sengokubara, Hakone, in spring and autumn to paint. This painting is thought to have been produced during that period.
Rather than dutifully depicting the subject matter, Makino deformed it with liberated brushwork and, in doing so, depicted works which strongly reflected his subjectivity. The relaxed, optimistic, liberated brushwork provides a refreshing impression. His paintings also reveal a somewhat nostalgic and homely sentiment.