Director: Kusumi Kawanabe, M.D., Ph.D
About Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889)
This great artist has grown in stature as we have been able the better
to get the Meiji period into perspective. He studied at an early age under
Kuniyoshi and later under Kano masters, but eventually he went his own
independent way. Essentially a nationalistic painter, he was nonetherless
fully aware of Western art - indeed, he dealt with it quite broardmindedly
in his book "Kyosai Gadan" published in 1887 - but he was robust
enough not to succumb, as so many of his contemporaries did, to the blandishments
of foreign styles, and was one of the last great painters in the truly
Japanese tradition. If he has a fault, it is over-exuberance: he paints
vigorously with a full brush, but his immense bravura and skill are sometimes
a little overpowering. But this very impetuousness and daring is often
more economically used in smaller sketches and drawings and they have always
elicited greater Western praise than many of his more important works.
Kyosai, because of the warmth of his personallity, his eccentricities and
his known love for sake over and above his gifts as a painter, was a legend
in his lifetime, and by great good fortune we have two intimate Western
accounts of him at work: one by Emile Guimet, who with Felix Regamy, visited
him in Japan in 1876, and wrote about him in "Promenades Japonaise,"
published in 1881; the other by Josiah Conder, the British architesct.
who studied painting under Kyosai in the 1880s, and who, in his "Paintings
and Studies by Kawanabe Kyosai," published in 1911, gave a very full
account of the artist's methods. Both Guimet and Conder were impressed
by Kyosai's attack." ---- (Jack Hillier)
Painting on the genreal top page
The painting on the top page is a part of a stage curtain of Shintomiza,
a Kabuki theater of Yedo era. It is said that Kyosai used only 4 hours
to complete painting of the curtain. Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum
of Waseda University kindly provided permission to use a picture of this
part of the curtain for this web site.
Welcome addresses of the director and about the museum:
I am pleased to have your visit to marvelous arts of Kyosai Kawanabe, my
great-grandfather and one of the most talented painters in the latter half
of the 19th century in the world. The Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum was
established in 1977, based on the collection of Kyosai's drawings and paintings
along with his daughter Kyosui's works. I believe the revaluation of Kyosai
is sure to open up a new field in Japanese art; he has hitherto been unduly
depreciated as merely eccentric by narow sighted art historians.
ABOUT KAWANABE KYOSAI MEMORIAL MUSEUM