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Japanese Paintings & Sculptures

Japanese western-style Paintings
The 1860s, when Monet and Renoir were beginning their activities, was exactly the time Japan was transitioning from the seclusion of the Edo period to the Meiji Restoration and the introduction of Western culture to Japan. Many Japanese painters became eager to learn the techniques of Western oil painting. Takahashi Yuichi and others of the first group of Japanese Western painting artists were initially self-taught, even making their own paints and brushes. The Pola Museum of Art collection boasts excellent works by Koyama Shotaro and Asai chu, who studied under Antonio Fontanesi an Italian artist brought to Japan by the Meiji government, and artists such as Kuroda Seiki and Fujishima Takeji who studied in France, or Kishida Ryusei who was active in the Taisho period and whose Portrait of Reiko is so well-known, Murayama Kaita, a unique painter who died at a young age, or Umehara Ryuzaburo and Yasui Sotaro who were great creative forces before World War II and through the post-war period. These paintings reveal the continuity of traditional Japanese aesthetics in the history of modern Japanese Western-style painting, regardless of the penetrating influence wielded by Western painting.


Okada Saburosuke, Kimono with Iris Pattern, 1927

Nihonga (Japanese-style paintings)
The Nihonga collection of the Pola Museum of Art includes around 160 paintings, with an emphasis on post-war works. The works are by artists the Japanese art world considers to be the best and they represent the major movements in modern Japanese-style painting. Another feature is that the paintings are done by artists who moved away from conventions of their predecessors, eliminating, for example, line drawing that were essential in traditional painting, or using the moro-tai technique of vague lines as well as Western aerial perspective. Yokoyama Taikan in 1914 revived the Nihon Bijutsu-in (Japan Fine Arts Academy) and used the Academy’s annual art exhibitions as a venue to exhibit the ‘neo-classical’ history paintings of Kobayashi Kokei, Yasuda Yukihiko, Maeda Seison, and the Ruso-gasha group of painters - Sugiyama Yasushi, Takayama Tatsuo, and Yamamoto Kyujin - who broke with tradition, aiming for creation of ‘new Japanese painting.’ The Pola Museum of Art has in its holdings 43 paintings by Sugiyama Yasushi, the largest collection in Japan of his works.

Japanese-style Paintings

Yokoyama Taikan, Mt.Fuji–Autumn, in the series of “Ten Scenes of Mt.Fuji”, 1940

Japanese western-style Paintings

Kishida Ryusei, Portrait of Reiko Sitting, 1919