Jean-François Millet
  • Portrait of Pauline-Virginie Ono
    Jean-François Millet, Portrait of Pauline-Virginie Ono Circa 1841-42, oil on canvas, 73.0 × 63.0 cm
    Millet moved to Paris in 1837 and spent his youth studying to be a painter. During this period, he returned to Cherbourg several times and painted a large number of portraits for a living. This portrait is from his early years and is painted using traditional methods. The model with the delicate figure is Pauline-Virginie Ono (1821-44), a tailor's daughter of Cherbourg, and Millet's first wife. They married in 1841, but Pauline, who was frail, passed away three years later at the age of 22. Millet was 29 years old at this time and they had no children.
  • Daphnis and Chloë
    Jean-François Millet, Daphnis and Chloë Circa 1845, oil on canvas, 82.5 × 65.0 cm
    Though Millet is famous for painting peasant farmers, he also produced paintings based on stories. This painting is a scene from Daphnis and Chloë, an idyllic romance written by the ancient Greek poet and writer, Longus. In the story, Daphnis and Chloë are both left on the Lesbos Island in the Aegean Sea when they are infants and are brought up by a shepherd and a goatherd. They fall in love as they grow up and spent their lives together as a couple. In this work, they are depicted as young children. Daphnis is playing his flute in a forest while Chloë is leaning against him with a fishing rod in her hand.
  • The Sleeping Seamstress
    Jean-François Millet, The Sleeping Seamstress 1844-45, oil on canvas, 45.7 × 38.1 cm
    In 1845, Millet started living with Catherine Lemaire (1827-1894), who was working as a housemaid in Cherbourg. They would live together for the next thirty years and had nine children. It is said that the model for this painting was Catherine. During this period, Millet created a number of small paintings of nude and beautiful women. The seamstress was one of his favorite themes, on which he worked recurrently, until his final years. On the middle finger of the seamstress, who must have fallen asleep while working, a thimble is painted in great detail, as are the objects behind her.
  • The Sower
    Jean-François Millet, The Sower 1850, oil on canvas, 99.7 × 80.0 cm
    This is the first major masterpiece Millet produced after he had moved from Paris to Barbizon. He had been attracted to this theme since he was in Paris. The canvas is mostly filled by the confident, imposing figure of a farmer, walking down the hill while sowing seeds out of a sack held in his left hand. This impactful image of farmers, was far from what people of the era were used to seeing. When this painting was exhibited at the Salon in Paris, some people praised the farmer's strong image, conservatives criticized it for representing protest against the authority.
  • Summer, The Gleaners
    Jean-François Millet, Summer, The Gleaners 1853, oil on canvas, 38.3 × 29.3 cm
    Millet produced three series of paintings on the four seasons and Summer, The Gleaners is from the first series. In France, grains such as wheat are usually harvested from July to August. As a custom, instead of collecting the entire crop, people used to intentionally leave some of them on the ground for the poor who did not have their own fields. It is documented that when Millet moved to Barbizon, he was surprised and deeply moved to see that people followed this custom as described in the Bible. Even though heaps of harvested grains are seen in the background, the real focus of this painting is the gleaning peasant women.
  • Woman feeding Chickens
    Jean-François Millet, Woman Feeding Chickens Circa 1853-56, oil on panel, 73.0 × 53.5 cm
    In this painting, Millet portrayed the daily life of a peasant couple. A woman is feeding chickens from her cupped apron in front of an entrance to a solid-looking stone-built house. Chickens are gathering around the feed, scattered from her right hand. Every chicken is painted in detail as if they each had their own character. One of them is coming hurriedly toward the feed from a distance, while another one away from the crowd is unaware of the feed and standing quietly. This must be the backyard of the house. Agricultural utensils are set against the wall, and you can see a man working on his garden behind the fence. Thick leaves on the tall trees are golden, reflecting the sunlight.
  • The Immaculate Conception
    Jean-François Millet, The Immaculate Conception 1858, oil on canvas, 79.0 × 45.0 cm
    In April 1857, the Roman Ministry of Railway commissioned Millet to paint a figure of the Virgin Mary for the chapel carriage of the train, used by Pope Pius IX (reign from 1846 to 1878). He completed his work within the given period of two months. The theme requested by the Holy See was “Immaculate Mary”. The term “Immaculate Mary” or “Immaculate Conception” came from the idea that the conception of Mary, who is the mother of Jesus, must be free from original sin. However, this painting was not favorably accepted by the pope, who was looking for a sublime, beautiful figure of Mary.
  • The Return of the Flock
    Jean-François Millet, The Return of the Flock 1856-60, oil on panel, 53.5 × 71.0 cm
    The Return of the Flock was Millet's favorite theme from mid 1850's to mid 1860's. A shepherd wearing a hat is gathering his cloak around him as if to keep himself warm. Obedient sheep are following the man forming a flock. Shepherds, who pasture sheep with the help of sheep dogs, are usually portrayed as cloaked figures with walking sticks. Peasant farmers normally kept shepherds at a distance, but they are described as “wise men” in the Bible. It was believed that shepherds had knowledge and wisdom, which made it common for travelers to ask them for directions
  • The Old Wall
    Jean-François Millet, The Old Wall 1862, oil on canvas, 50.8 × 61.6 cm
    This work dates from around 1862, the year when Millet first began painting landscapes. The painting depicts an old wall, marking the boundary between the village of Barbizon and Fontainebleau Forest, with a deer peeking out from the other side. The deer seems to be peering in from the dense forest that spreads just beyond the wall. Bright sunlight illuminates the meadow in the foreground, where frogs and dandelions create a vibrant and vivacious scene in a marked contrast with the dark background.
  • Winter (Cupid frozen with Cold)
    Jean-François Millet, Winter (Cupid Frozen with Cold) 1864-65, oil on canvas, 205.0 × 112.0 cm
    This is Winter from his second series on the four seasons. It was created for a banker named Thomas, for the dining room of his new residence in Paris. He depicted Daphnis and Chloë (National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo) for Spring and Cérès (Musée des Beaux-Arts Bordeaux) for Summer. Autumn was painted on the ceiling, but it was unfortunately lost in a fire. The scene is based on a poem by the Greek writer Anacreon. A woman and an old man are inviting Cupid, frozen with cold from walking in the snow, into the warmth of their home. The reason it is painted on a shaped canvas is because it was displayed right above the fireplace in the dining room.
  • Rocks at Gréville
    Jean-François Millet, Rocks at Gréville 1870, oil on canvas, 24.0 × 33.0 cm
    In July 1870, war broke out between France and Prussia (today's Germany). To escape from this war, Millet left Barbizon with his family in August, for a port town called Cherbourg in Normandy, the northwestern part of France. The family stayed in the town for about six months, this piece was painted during this period. Gréville is a village on the coast not far from Cherbourg. The water seen under the rocks is the English Channel. In a letter he sent to his friend, a biographer, Alfred Sensier, tells that it was painted sometime between September and October.
Western Art
  • The Wood-Splitters (Landscape with River)
    Claude Lorrain, The Wood-Splitters (Landscape with River) 1637, oil on canvas, 79.4 × 115.6 cm
    The French artist Claude Lorrain (born Claude Gellée but called “Lorrain” because he was from the Duchy of Lorraine) made his second trip to Rome in 1627. He would go on to spend the rest of his days there without once returning to France. Lorrain's artistic interests lay in landscapes that are rich in spatial perspective effects. He established a reputation for coastal landscapes featuring the rising or setting sun, the background cast in brilliant shades of gold. Lorrain's landscapes had a quality not unlike a theater stage, in that they portrayed an idealized world that differed somewhat from reality. The Wood-Splitters (Landscape with River) depicts people carrying freshly chopped lumber onto a boat, in a somewhat melancholic scene, set at dusk. Lorrain left to posterity his Liber Veritatis (Book of Truth), a collection of rough sketches that correspond to his oil paintings. The 21st sketch in his Liber Veritatis, corresponding to this particular work, includes a note that reads “Naples.”
  • Wooded Landscape with a View of the Bentheim Castle
    Jacob van Ruisdael, Wooded Landscape with a View of the Bentheim Castle Circa 1655, oil on canvas, 63.5 × 68.0 cm
    Jacob van Ruisdael is said to have been born in Haarlem and spent his final days in Amsterdam. Little is known about his training in the arts, other than that he was recognized as a professional painter in 1648 when he became a member of the painters' guild in Haarlem. Around 1650, he traveled throughout western Germany, where he was deeply moved by the mountain sceneries, enormous forests, rivers, hills, castles, and so on, later incorporating many of these subjects and themes into his paintings. Considered to be one of the great Dutch landscape artists of the 17th century, Ruisdael also left an enormous impact on future generations of landscape painters, especially those in the Barbizon School. Painted about five years after his travels in Germany, Gezicht op kasteel Bentheim (View of the Castle of Bentheim) depicts the scenery around the castle in the small village of Bentheim in Westphalia, near the border of Holland. Greatly impressed with this particular castle, Ruisdael often used it as a motif in his artwork. The building just visible through the densely wooded area in the background, on the left side of the frame is one of the castle's turrets. In this work, the main castle building is hidden from view, while the rugged terrain of the hill and the forest road leading to the castle are depicted in great detail. On the winding path up the hill, one can see a knight on a horse, a peasant man and woman, and a shepherd herding his flock.
  • Loch Fyne, with Inverary Castle in the Distance
    Joseph-Mallord William Turner, Loch Fyne, with Inverary Castle in the Distance 1802-05, watercolor on paper, 56.0 × 83.0 cm
    Joseph-Mallord William Turner was born in London and spent his final days there. In 1789, he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Art. In 1790, he made his debut at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition with a watercolor painting. In 1802, he became a full member of the Royal Academy. From a young age, he often traveled far and wide on sketching trips. In the many landscapes that he produced, during the period beginning with a trip to Italy in 1828 and continuing until around 1840, he endeavored to capture the appearance of the air and the light within the scenery. Considered to be one of the great English landscape artists of the 19th century, Turner left an enormous impact on future Impressionist painters. Based on a sketch that Turner had created during a visit to Scotland in the summer of 1801, Loch Fyne, with Inverary Castle in the Distance was commissioned by the Duke of Argyll, the Lord of Inverary Castle. Located about 60 km northwest of Glasgow, Loch Fyne carves a winding path through the heart of Scotland as it flows from south to north. Turner produced numerous pencil sketches and watercolor paintings, depiting Inverary Castle standing atop the cape that juts into an inlet of Loch Fyne. This work depicts several small boats afloat atop the somewhat choppy surface of the water, as high waves crash against the shore and white birds fly overhead.
  • In a Forest, Summer Morning
    Jules Dupré, In a Forest, Summer Morning Circa 1840, oil on canvas, 95.5 × 76.0 cm
    The son of a porcelain maker, Jules Dupré was born in Nantes City of France and spent his final days in L'Isle-Adam. In 1822, he began working as a porcelain painter. Meanwhile, from the age of 12, he began studying oil painting. After studying painting in Paris, he made his debut at the Salon (the official exhibition of Académie des Beaux-Arts) in 1831. In 1834, he traveled to England, where he was greatly influenced by English landscape paintings. After returning to France, he continued producing artwork primarily in a suburb of Paris. He was close friends with Théodore Rousseau, who influenced Dupré's artwork. In 1850, he moved to L'Isle-Adam, where he would spend the rest of his days.
    In the 1840s, Dupré produced many works alongside his good friend, Rousseau, in Barbizon and during their travels together. Dupré also painted many landscapes that were directly influenced by Rousseau. In a Forest, Summer Morning depicts a thicket of tall trees that fill most of the frame. Their branches and leaves are intertwined, giving the impression that the trees are all part of one great mass. A clear blue summer sky expands overhead, while the shadows of the trees fall on the vast meadow below. The few cows relaxing in the meadow appear to have chosen this cool place in the shade of the trees. One can also faintly discern the presence of a herd in the distant background.
  • A Market Day
    Constant Troyon, A Market Day Circa 1859, oil on canvas, 115.4 × 175.5 cm
    The son of a porcelain craftsman, Constant Troyon was born in Sèvres and spent his final days in Paris. From an early age, he worked at a porcelain factory, where he learned painting from a porcelain painter. After becoming acquainted with Théodore Rousseau in 1843, he began producing artwork in the Forest of Fontainebleau. In 1847, he spent a year living in Holland, where, having been introduced to the works of 17th and 18th century Dutch masters, he began creating works depicting animals. In 1849, he was awarded the Legion of Honor and in 1855, he won first prize at the Expositions universelles de Paris. After his death, a retrospective exhibition of his works was held at the Expositions universelles de Paris in 1867.
    The market depicted in this work was not only a place for people to buy and sell livestock, but also an opportunity for people to obtain news about the goings on in faraway cities. Many of the market days in provincial France at the time were held in either spring or autumn, as they had been in the exact same locations since the Middle Ages. A Market Day portrays a scene of livestock gathered at the market with great attention to detail, as is to be expected from Troyon, who was famous for his paintings of animals in particular. Incidentally, this work was purchased by the art collector Kojiro Matsukata, who was the first president of Kawasaki Shipbuilding Company, during a trip to Europe. It was first displayed in Japan in 1928, after Matsukata's return.
  • Edge of the Forest, Near the Gorges d’Apremont
    Pierre-Étienne Théodore Rousseau, Edge of the Forest, Near the Gorges d’Apremont 1866, oil on canvas, 76.0 × 95.0 cm
    Étienne Pierre Théodore Rousseau was born in Paris and spent his final days in Barbizon. His influences included 17th century Dutch painters as well as English landscape painters. He first visited Barbizon in 1833 and began living there in 1836. While many painters of the Barbizon School were primarily active in Paris, Rousseau made his home in the village of Barbizon, where he continued producing landscapes.
    Although he made his debut at the Salon (the official exhibition of Académie des Beaux-Arts) in 1831, his works were rejected for display at the Salon every year from 1836 to 1841, earning him the nickname “Le Grand Refusé” (The Great Reject). Later, he would finally earn official recognition, winning first prize at the Salon in 1849, receiving the Legion of Honor in 1852 and having a special exhibition room set aside for the display of his works at the Expositions universelles de Paris in 1855. Rousseau was a leader of the Barbizon School and was also quite friendly with such artists as Jean-François Millet and Narcisse Virgilio Diaz. Edge of the Forest, Near the Gorges d'Apremont is believed to depict Les Gorges d'Apremont near the Forest of Fontainebleau. An expansive meadow atop the rocky gorge, Les Gorges d'Apremont was a popular grazing spot thanks to its proximity to a source of drinking water. Ever since first visiting Barbizon in the 1830s, Rousseau produced numerous works portraying the scenery of Les Gorges d'Apremont.
  • Grand Farmland
    Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Grand Farmland Circa 1860-65, oil on canvas, 55.2 × 80.8 cm
    Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was born to a wealthy family engaged in the fabric business in Paris, where he also spent his final days. Owing to his family's disapproval, he was not able to dedicate himself fully to his artistic endeavors until the age of 26. After studying under the tutelage of the Classicist landscape painters Achille Etna Michallon and Jean-Victor Bertin, Corot made his debut at the Salon (the official exhibition of Académie des Beaux-Arts) in 1827. He continued producing artwork during three trips to Italy and while traveling throughout France, though primarily basing his artistic activities at the Forest of Fontainebleau. From the 1850s, he gained popularity for artwork featuring silver-gray color tones and imbued with poetic sentiment. In 1855, he won the grand prize at the Expositions universelles de Paris, thus securing a lasting reputation in both name and deed.
    Grand Farmland is an excellent example of the silver-gray coloring and poetic sentiment that characterized Corot's works after 1850. The painting portrays the scenery of Ville d'Avray, a small town among the western suburbs of Paris that Corot often visited. Here, pastoral scenery no longer found in rapidly industrializing Paris, stretches as far as the eye can see. In the foreground, there are four women wearing rustic clothing. The bright colors of their clothes, white, yellow, red, and blue, serve to embellish the green grassland on which the women are placed in the foreground of the frame.
  • The Deer by the Rivulet
    Gustave Courbet, The Deer by the Rivulet Circa 1864, oil on canvas, 73.0 × 92.0 cm
    Gustave Courbet was born in Ornans, a town in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. While attending Académie Suisse in Paris, he made his debut at the Salon (the official exhibition of Académie des Beaux-Arts) in 1844. After that, he continued producing and displaying ambitious works one after another, including Un enterrement à Ornans (A Burial at Ornans) and The Stone Breakers. After 14 of his major works were rejected for display at the Expositions universelles de Paris, he instead held a solo exhibition to display them himself. In 1871, he took part in the revolutionary Paris Commune and was imprisoned after the Commune was defeated. He was later exiled to Switzerland, where he spent the remainder of his days.
    Courbet displayed his first hunting painting at the Salon in 1857, after which he found commercial success as a painter of hunting scenes. The Deer by the Rivulet portrays a deer that has been chased into a corner by a hunter and with nowhere else to run, is in the midst of taking a desperate leap into the titular rivulet. Capturing the deer in the instant of jumping out of the dark forest into a bright ray of sunlight, the painting gives a momentary glimmer to the deer's neck and back. The deer portrayed in this painting bears a striking resemblance to the deer depicted in one of the works of the English animal painter Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, suggesting that Courbet was greatly influenced by Landseer.
  • A Summer Morning by the Oise River
    Charles-François Daubigny, A Summer Morning by the Oise River 1869, oil on canvas, 68.6 × 100.3 cm
    Charles-François Daubigny was born in Paris and also spent his final days there. Having been taught the basics of painting by his father, who was also a painter, he began studying at the studio of Paul Delaroche in 1838. That same year, he made his debut at the Salon (the official exhibition of Académie des Beaux-Arts). After a trip to Italy in 1836, he began traveling here and there while producing artwork in the plein-air style. From 1843, he made occasional visits to Barbizon. Preferring waterfront scenery as his motifs, Daubigny built an art studio on a small boat, which he named “Le Botin” (Little Box). On Le Botin, he traveled the rivers of France while actively producing artwork. In 1860, he settled in Auvers-sur-Oise. His strong emphasis on plein-air artwork would have a great impact on future Impressionist painters, including Claude Monet.
    A Summer Morning by the Oise River portrays the scenery of the Oise River, upon which floats a small steamboat. As the steam engine was a technology that had only just developed during the 19th century, this painting suggests that even this seemingly placid scenery of the Oise River was not immune from the tide of modernization sweeping across France. Rows of houses are visible on the opposite shore of the river and in the bottom left of the frame, one can see two women doing laundry in the river. Although these two are seen going about their work wordlessly, the riverside laundry area was a social place, where women would regularly gather and talk while washing clothes.
  • Moonlight at Dordrecht
    Johan Barthold Jongkind, Moonlight at Dordrecht Circa 1872, oil on canvas, 59.5 × 102.0 cm
    Johan Barthold Jongkind was born in Lattrop, Holland and spent his final days in La Côte-Saint-André, France. In 1846, after studying at the Hague Art Academy of Holland, Jongkind moved to Paris, where he became acquainted with several artists of the Barbizon School. While active in Paris, he produced many works portraying scenery from all over Europe, not only oil paintings, but also prints. In 1862, he became a member of the Society of Etchers, after which he produced and displayed many superb etchings. After becoming an alcoholic at a young age, he led a transient lifestyle, traveling from place to place before ultimately passing away at a hospital in Grenoble.
    The setting of this painting, the town of Dordrecht in South Holland Province, is known for its many rivers and canals. A river (or perhaps a canal) runs through the center of the frame of Moonlight at Dordrecht and several small boats can be seen floating upon the surface of the water. Vibrant trees line both banks of the river (or canal) and several windmills and the steeple of a church can be seen in the distance. The light of the moon, though hidden by the thick clouds, casts a glow on the water, giving it a shimmering appearance. This style of bold brushwork and depiction of light and shadow had a profound impact on Claude Monet and other young artists who would go on to form the Impressionist School.
Japanese Modern & Contemporary Art
  • Bijin Shoryozu (Beauty with a Fan)
    Shohin Noguchi, Bijin Shoryozu (Beauty with a Fan) 1887, color on silk, 125.0 × 43.0 cm
    Shohin Noguchi was born in Osaka. At the age of 19, she began studying under the tutelage of the Nanga School painter, Taizan Hine, where she received the pen name Shohin. After marrying into the Noguchi family, which ran a sake distillery in Shiga Prefecture's Gamo County, she lived for a while at the distillery's sales office in Kofu City of Yamanashi Prefecture. Later, after moving to Tokyo, she became active at various exhibitions, winning numerous awards. In 1904, she became the first woman to be named an official artist of the Imperial Court. Furthermore, she was given the distinct honor of being commissioned to create a folding screen for the coronation ceremony of Emperor Taisho.
    Judging from the stack of books bound in the traditional Japanese style that are sitting atop the vermillion writing desk, the woman portrayed in this work appears to have just stood up after finishing reading. She is holding a water fan, through which her hand and kimono are visible, and wearing a fine kimono with a bamboo grass pattern and silk gauze stripes, through which her underclothes can be glimpsed. The near transparency of the fan and her kimono help to engender a sense of refreshing coolness. Her slender face, showing the slightest hint of blush, is endowed with an individual personality, as though there was a model for the painting. One theory that has been put forward is that this may be a self-portrait, but the identity of the model (if there was one) has never been determined.
    Though Shohin is known for vibrant mountain landscapes and elegant paintings of flowers and birds, which she often drew in her later years, Bijin Shoryozu (Beauty with a Fan) is a masterpiece that proves beyond a doubt her extraordinary skill at portraying beautiful women, as well.
  • Natsu no Reiho (A Sacred Mountain Fuji - Summer)
    Taikan Yokoyama, Natsu no Reiho (A Sacred Mountain Fuji - Summer) Circa 1941, color on silk, 53.5 × 65.8 cm
    Taikan Yokoyama was born in Mito. In 1889, he was among the first group of students to matriculate at the newly established Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now Tokyo University of the Arts), where he studied under the tutelage of Tenshin Okakura, Gaho Hashimoto and others. In 1898, he joined Tenshin and other artists in forming the art group, Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Art Institute), helping to create the so-called “morotai” (vague style) of painting, which eschewed the contour lines of traditional Japanese painting. As a leader of this reform movement in modern Japanese painting, Taikan had an enormous impact not only on Japanese art, but on society as well.
    Natsu no Reiho (A Sacred Mountain Fuji - Summer) was part of a serial work depicting Mt. Fuji throughout the four seasons. It portrays Mt. Fuji in a brilliant shade of blue, emerging through a rift in the clouds with just a few traces of snow left on its peak. Here, the depiction of the clouds is highly realistic, capturing the precise moment when the clouds are in the process of shifting into complex shapes. Having once said, “Mt. Fuji is best viewed when surrounded by clouds and fog”, Taikan often chose to portray Mt. Fuji in the summer as he does here, depicting the mountain's silhouette jutting into view above the clouds in ultramarine. Mt. Fuji was one of Taikan's favorite subjects, he not only stated that painting Mt. Fuji was akin to painting himself, but also considered Mt. Fuji to be a symbol of Japan, a tangible representation of the national character of the Japanese people. He is said to have produced some 1,500 works of art featuring Mt. Fuji during his lifetime.
  • Uki (The Rainy Season)
    Koichiro Kondo, Uki (The Rainy Season) 1951, sumi ink on paper, 54.4 × 61.0 cm
    Koichiro Kondo was born in a village called Mutsuai (present-day Nanbu Town) in Yamanashi Prefecture. After moving to Tokyo, he became a disciple of Eisaku Wada while studying western-style painting at Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now Tokyo University of the Arts). After graduating, he worked as a manga artist for a newspaper and his works proved popular. At the same time, he took an interest in Japanese-style painting and began submitting works for display at Sangokai Exhibitions. After making his debut at the 6th Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Art Institute) Exhibition in 1919, he went on to solidify his reputation as an ink painter with two of his greatest works: Ukai Rokudai (Six Scenes of Cormorant Fishing), submitted for display at the 10th Nihon Bijutsuin Exhibition and Kyoraku Judai (Ten Scenes of Kyoto), submitted for display at the following exhibition. After that, he traveled throughout Japan, continuously sketching the scenery of famous sights. After his resignation from Nihon Bijutsuin in 1936, he continued drawing whatever happened to catch his fancy; from grandiose scenes of nature, scenes of people going about their daily business, to depictions of fruits and animals.
    Uki (The Rainy Season) depicts a dreary sky full of rain clouds hanging over orderly rows of rice seedlings, which three farm women are going about planting wordlessly in the center of the frame. Although the frame is not so large, it gives the viewer a sense of an endless expanse of countryside stretching out before one's eyes. Combining high-quality art supplies imported from China with a variety of skillful techniques, this work is truly a masterpiece of Kondo's mature period, the result of his many years spent pursuing new forms of expression with the ink medium.
  • Sekishun (Late Spring)
    Shunko Mochizuki, Sekishun (Late Spring) 1978, color on paper, 180.0 × 252.0 cm
    Shunko Mochizuki was born in a village called Sumiyoshi (part of the present-day Kofu City) in Yamanashi Prefecture. He enrolled in the Japanese Painting Department of Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now Tokyo University of the Arts), where he studied under the tutelage of Somei Yuki. He won a special prize at the 9th Teiten (Imperia Fine Arts Academy Exhibition) in 1928 and again the following year at the 10th Teiten Exhibition, thus earning a name for himself in the art world almost overnight. He would later go on to serve as a judge at both Bunten Exhibitions and Japan Fine Arts Exhibitions (Nitten). He also won the Japan Art Academy Award. At the same time, he also worked as a teacher at Tokyo Women's Normal School (now Ochanomizu University), where he was actively engaged in educating the next generation. Having greatly contributed to his hometown of Yamanashi, through acts such as the founding of the Yamanashi Art Society and being recognized as a Person of Cultural Merit by Yamanashi Prefecture in 1975.
    Sekishun (Late Spring) portrays a majestic yaezakura cherry tree in full bloom against a gold leaf background that fills out the rest of its sizeable frame. Various timeframes seem to coexist in the figure of the cherry tree. Not yet flowering buds sit beside flowers in full bloom. At the same time, one cannot miss the sight of two flowers falling from the tree while still in full bloom. Known for his portrayals of flowers and birds, Shunko always approached his motifs with great sincerity, never wavering in his attentive depictions. His artistic style reflected that of traditional Japanese classical yamato-e paintings, leaning especially toward the decorative aesthetic of the Rinpa School and the grandeur of Momoyama Period partition paintings, which emphasized black ink, brilliant coloring, and the liberal use of gold.
  • Europe no Kiki (The Crisis of Europe)
    Hisahito Yonekura, Europe no Kiki (The Crisis of Europe) 1936, oil on canvas, 80.3 × 100.0 cm
    Hisahito Yonekura was born in Kofu City of Yamanashi Prefecture. After making his debut at the 5th Dokuritsu Exhibition in 1935, he moved to Tokyo to focus on his artwork the following year. In 1939, he took part in the formation of the Bijyutsu Bunka Art Association. After the war, Yonekura left the Association in 1951 and became one of the nine founding members of Salon de Juin the following year. Thereafter, he submitted numerous works to exhibitions sponsored by Salon de Juin.
    Europe no Kiki (The Crisis of Europe) was submitted for display at a solo exhibition held at the Kinokuniya Gallery in Ginza. Right before the exhibition, Yonekura had published a poem with a similar title, Sekai no Kiki (World Crisis), in a magazine. The poem evokes images of the Spanish Civil War, which had begun in July of that same year. The painting depicts an old map of Europe superimposed over an image of a cracking skull with various mechanical parts bursting forth from within as though from a broken machine. Perhaps the fallen horse and disembodied hand clutching a bugle in the foreground are meant to symbolize a battlefield. In the far left of the frame is the figure of a person who is shackled and bound. Seeming to forebode the Second World War and the collapse of western material civilization, Europe no Kiki (The Crisis of Europe) is considered to be not only one of Yonekura's greatest works of the pre-war period, but also one of the great masterpieces of Japanese Surrealism.
  • Subway No. 8
    Masaaki Sato, Subway No. 8 1975, acrylic on canvas, 110.0 × 135.0 cm
    Masaaki Sato was born in Kofu City of Yamanashi Prefecture. In 1970 he moved to America, where he studied at the Brooklyn Museum Art School in New York until 1974. He began producing works in his Subway series in 1975. Although his style would later shift as he began working on his “Newsstand” Series, throughout his oeuvre, he consistently produced works that dealt with themes symbolizing New York City, such as the various races of people and languages, etc. to be found within the City.
    In his writings, Sato recounts being overwhelmed by an inescapable sense of anxiety, whenever he rode the subway, shortly after immigrating to America. In the 1970s, he began drawing inverted cones into surfaces such as people's bodies, vehicles, fruits, etc. In his Subway series, these conical holes fill the spaces of subway trains and stations, representing entire cities as living organisms. Subway No. 8 depicts a passageway whose walls, floor and ceiling are covered in countless holes, conveying the feeling of struggling just to remain standing, while forcing the viewer to share in the anxiety that Sato felt. Next to a clock toward the rear of the frame, there is a banner advertisement, Sato would continue to develop this framing style of including letters and signage in his next series, Newsstand.
  • Nisei Nakamura Kanjiro, Kamiya Jihei (Kanjiro Nakamura II as Jihei Kamiya) from Shinpan Butai no Sugata-e (New Stage Portrait Prints)
    Shunsen Natori, Nisei Nakamura Kanjiro, Kamiya Jihei (Kanjiro Nakamura II as Jihei Kamiya) from Shinpan Butai no Sugata-e (New Stage Portrait Prints) 1951-54, woodblock print, 39.0 × 27.0 cm
    Shunsen Natori was born in a town that was called Kushigata (part of the present-day Minami-Alps City) in Yamanashi Prefecture. He enrolled in the Japanese Painting Department of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now Tokyo University of the Arts), but later dropped out. While submitting works for display at the Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Art Institute) Exhibitions and so on, he made his living working at the Asahi Shimbun newspaper company, where he drew illustrations for numerous serialized novels, including Soseki Natsume's Sanshiro. In 1916, his Shosei Nakamura Kanjiro, Kamiya Jihei Zu (Kanjiro Nakamura I as Jihei Kamiya) was displayed at the Dramatic Comic Strip Exhibition sponsored by the publisher, Gahakudo. That same year, it was also published as a woodblock print by Watanabe Print Shop and proved to be quite popular. This event served as the impetus for Shunsen to decide to become a woodblock print artist of yakusha-e (portraits of kabuki actors). Shunsen would then go on to create a new age of yakusha-e for the Showa Period.
    Kanjiro Nakamura II was a famous kabuki actor, who was among the first round of actors to be selected as a member of the Organization for the Preservation of Kabuki. Jihei Kamiya is the name of the protagonist in Monzaemon Chikamatsu's traditional Japanese puppet play Shinju Ten no Amijima (The Love Suicides at Amijima). In the play, Jihei, in spite of having a wife and child, falls in love with a prostitute named Koharu. In the end, the two star-crossed lovers ultimately commit suicide together. Here, Jihei is portrayed with a handkerchief tied around his head to avert being recognized and an expression that exudes the torment of a man engaged in an illicit affair. His expression and the makeup around his eyes and mouth combine to give this work a uniquely sensual luster.
  • Ishi no Hana (Aka) (Stone Flower (Red))
    Hideo Hagiwara, Ishi no Hana (Aka) (Stone Flower (Red)) 1960, woodblock print, 87.0 × 58.0 cm
    Hideo Hagiwara was born in Kofu City of Yamanashi Prefecture. In 1938, he graduated from the Oil Painting Department of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now Tokyo University of the Arts). Having caught tuberculosis in 1953, he spent three years undergoing medical treatment and recuperating. It was during this time that he began studying woodblock printmaking on his own. In 1960, he submitted a work for display at the Exposition Biennale Internationale de Gravure à Tokio, winning the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama Award. In 1962, he won the grand prix at the International Bianco e Nero Exhibition in Lugano, Switzerland. He would go on to win numerous prizes at various international exhibitions. Throughout his artistic career, he continued to express himself through abstract images in the medium of woodblock print while also creating several new techniques.
    Ishi no Hana (Aka) (Stone Flower (Red)) won a prize at the 2nd Exposition Biennale Internationale de Gravure à Tokio. In this work, Hagiwara uses his original dual-sided printing technique, which involved printing the entire reverse side of the paper with a deep shade of blue ink and making it bleed through to the front. This not only caused narrow, blackish lines to form and spread throughout the frame, but also served to deepen the color tones of the reds. When it came to producing woodblock prints, Hagiwara endeavored to replicate the layers of color and sense of depth found in oil paintings. The resulting artwork featured unique images of natural phenomena, reconceived as colors and shapes, expressed through richly colorful woodblock prints.
  • Koreru Horo (Bering Kaikyo) (A Frozen Corridor (Bering Strait))
    Yukio Fukazawa, Koreru Horo (Bering Kaikyo) (A Frozen Corridor (Bering Strait)) 1978, etching, aquatint, and mezzotint 49.5 × 74.5 cm
    Yukio Fukazawa was born in a town called Masuho (of present-day Fujikawa) in Yamanashi Prefecture's rural Minamikoma County. After graduating from the Department of Metalworking at Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1949, he began studying copperplate printing techniques on his own. In 1957, he won the Japan Print Association Award at the Japan Print Association Exhibition. At the behest of the Mexico International Cultural Promotion Association (KBS), Fukazawa traveled to Mexico to teach copperplate printing techniques in 1963. After that, he began producing numerous colored woodblock prints, as well. He was also active on the international art scene, winning the Banco di Roma Prize at the Florence International Print Biennial in 1972.
    During his travels in Latin America in the mid-1970s, Fukazawa visited Indo-American villages and this experience led him to contemplate the fact that both Indo-Americans and Asians, as Mongoloids, shared common ancestors. Thus, he conceived a new artistic theme: “Mongoloids of the New World.” As one of the works representing this theme, Koreru Horo (Bering Kaikyo) (A Frozen Corridor (Bering Strait)) depicts Mongoloids migrating from Asia to the New World across the frozen Bering Strait during the Ice Age. Especially during the 1970s, he produced numerous works with themes based on the majestic history of mankind and characterized by their dramatic storytelling nature.