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.