Toshihide Migata (Japanese, 1862-1925) and the Shunyokai Association
Toshihide Migata (Japanese, 1862-1925) and the Shunyokai Association
Les Sylphides No.1 and No. 2, (diptych), n.d.
oil on panel
signed and titled verso
Toshihide Migata was born in 1863 in Oitaken, Shizuoka Province. His father was a Kano school painter. He studied Western-style painting under Kunisawa Shinkuro. Shinkuro was a pioneer of Western-style painting in early Meiji Japan who studied in England under John Edgar Williams. When he returned to Japan in 1874, he opened the Shogido art school. After his death, Toshihide studied with Honda Kinkichiro, who was known for his Western style landscapes.
He also attended the school of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, widely known as the last great master of the ukiyo-e genre of woodblock printing and painting, and studied Japanese-style painting (Nihonga) with Watanabe Shotei (1851-1918). Shotei, known for his more traditional painting style, was one of the first Japanese artists to visit Europe, winning an award at the 1878 International Exhibition in Paris.
Toshihide designed a wide variety of prints including actor prints, bijin-ga (prints of beautiful women), newspaper illustrations, kuchi-e (illustrations for novels) and senso-e of the Sino-Japanese (1894-1895) and Russo-Japanese (1904-1905) Wars. He worked as an illustrator for books and newspapers, including a long stint with the Asahi Shimbun starting in 1897. He was a member of the Nihon Bijutsu Kyokai (Japan Art Association) and Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Art Institute), frequently serving as a juror for these groups. Among his pupils were Ikeda Terukata (1883-1921), Ikeda Shoen (1886-1917), Kaburagi Kiyokata (1878-1972) and Hirezaki Eiho (1881-1968).
The Shunyokai was an association of prominent Japanese artists who painted in oil. (Above) Poster advertising the first exhibition of the Shunyokai. (Paris in Japan: The Japanese Encounter with European Painting, pg 70, fig 39)
Although Japanese artists studied with artists in several different European countries,
"...the exhibition (Paris in Japan: The Japanese Encounter with European Painting) reveals that Parisian art had an even more decisive effect on Japan. When the Emperor Meiji came to power in 1868, his Government brought to an end more than 200 years of self-imposed Japanese isolation. Partly in disgust with the corruption and ineptness of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ended in years of turbulence bordering on civil war, there was a reaction against tradition.
Under a Government driven to turn Japan overnight into a competitive international power, Japanese artists were thrown into the world in a sudden, almost violent way. Partly because oil painting was identified with ‘’scientific’’ realism at a time when Japan was trying to make itself a scientific and technological power, European painting was considered superior to brush and ink.
Japanese artists turned, above all, to Paris, the capital of painting and cultural champion of the world. It is easy to understand the appeal of the City of Light to a country that had just emerged from years of insulation and darkness. It may have been a long and costly journey to Paris, the French language may have been hard and Parisian life may not always have been accommodating, but for most Japanese artists, the trouble was worth it. The romance with Paris was real and sustaining.
Mr. Rimer, an East Asian literary scholar, points out that in a Japan where national models had crumbled, ‘’all of Western art came to serve as their avant-garde.’’ The Japanese learned from such academic painters as Raphael Collin, Jean-Paul Laurens, Fernand Cormon and Carolus-Duran. And they learned from the art and lives of Cezanne, van Gogh and Gauguin. If it was French, it was good. All French art was an alternative.
...in the same century in which many French artists were drawn to the exoticism of the East, many Japanese were drawn to the exoticism of France. For the Japanese, Mr. Rimer says, ‘’A trip to France was the premier intellectual and spiritual adventure of the period.’’
Excerpt from Brensen, Michael. When Japan’s Art Opened to Western Winds. The New York Times 25 Dec. 1987: n. pag. Web.
Very good original condition, no retouch. Unique original frame housing both panels.
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