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A pair of watercolours on silk, dusted with mica and mounted as wall scrolls.
Kawanabe Kyosai began a formal art training aged 6 when he entered the school of the famous ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861). In 1840 he entered the studio of the Kano painter Maemura Towa (? – 1841) and progressed to the studio of Kano Tohaku (? – 1851) head of the Surugadai branch of the Kano school and completed his first known work ‘Bishamon’. He completed his studies in 1849 and was given the art name Kano Toiku Noriyuki. For all that he was a nationalistic painter, Kyosai was equally fully aware of Western art and dealt with it in his book ‘Kyosai Gadan’ published in 1887. He was one of the last great painters in the truly Japanese tradition.
Kyosai’s great success as a painter, coupled with his unusually eccentric personality, meant that he was already a legend in his own lifetime.
The Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum, dedicated to his life and work, houses over 3000 of his preparatory drawings and studies.
Two Western accounts of Kyosai at work survive: one by Emile Guimet (1836-1918), who visited him in Japan in 1876 and wrote about him in ‘Promenades Japonaise’, published in 1881; the other by Josiah Conder (1852-1920), the British architect, who studied painting under Kyosai in the 1880s and gave a detailed account of his work in his ‘Paintings and Studies by Kawanabe Kyosai’, published in 1911.
Measurements: Height 154 cms (60.5”); Width 54.5 cms (21.25”)