We are very happy to present the fourth installment in the series of exhibitions entitled Reappraisal of Meiji Art - an attempt at systematic approach to the art of the dawn of Japan’s modern history.
The present exhibition focuses on the realistic and record-keeping nature of Western-style paintings and photographs of the Meiji pcriod. Centering around the works of Yamamoto Hosui, one of the leading Western-style painters of the day, the exhibition also introduces the works of Takahashi Yuichi, Goseda Yoshimatsu and other Western-style painters who were active in the early-to-mid Meiji period along with the documentary photographs of the Meiji period in our museum’s possession - the photographs which have never before been made public. Up to the Meiji 20s, pursuit of artistic excellence was by no means the sole objective of Western-style painters in Japan. As practitioners of a new artistic medium excelling in realistic ways of expression based on the techniques of chiaroscuro and perspective, they were also expected to function as communicators of vivid visual images, bringing to the general public swiftly and unerringly scenes unique to the evolving modern age as well as disasters, incidents and other important events and developments. The art of photography, introduced toward the end of the shogunate period, was also valued highly as a means of recording a variety of new undertakings conducted in the Meiji period.
The present exhibition, comprising seven items of Western-style paintings, four items of Watercolors etc. and 46 items of photographs, mostly from our museum’s collections and some from the Gyobutsu Imperial properties, the Archives & Mausolea Department of the Imperial Houschold Agency, attempts to highlight this important aspect of the art of the Meiji period. We shall be immensely gratified if the exhibition provides an opportunity for the viewers to appreciate this particular aspect of the Western-style paintings and photographs of the Meiji period.