Part 3: Autograph collection

Chapter 1 Paintings

The collection of the National Diet Library contains paintings as well as autograph materials focused on letters. Among them, exhibited here are eight art pieces by people who became famous in their fields, consisting of a variety of original works including Japanese paintings, oil paintings, a picture diary, and rough sketches.

TANI Buncho, 1763-1840

A portrait of TANI BunchoA Japanese painter in the late Edo period. Learned drawing techniques in a wide range from Nanga to Western-influenced style including that of the Kano School and became an authority in the Edo art circles with his own brushwork that blended styles of varied schools. Many distinct painters such as Watanabe Kazan and Tanomura Chikuden appeared among his pupils. After having served the Tayasu Family since 1788, he was acknowledged by Matsudaira Sadanobu in 1792 and became his kinju (attendant of a lord).

101 Sakuraso-zu[特1-3292]The outer case of Sakuraso-zu

A painting of primroses by Buncho with san (poem or sentences added to a work) by Yashiro Hirokata attached. Yashiro, a Japanese literature scholar in the late Edo period, gained the favor of Matsudaira Sadanobu as with Buncho and was also famous as a master of calligraphy. Buncho created the work presumably in the Bunka era (1804-1818) or later according to its rakkan (signatures and seals on works of art) although the creation period remains unclear.
The text by Yashiro is a waka (a traditional Japanese poem), which admires the beauty of primroses.


ICHIKAWA Danjuro VIII, (1823-1854)

A portrait of ICHIKAWA Danjuro ⅧA Japanese kabuki actor and the eldest son of Ichikawa Danjuro VII. Assumed the stage name of Danjuro at the age of 10. He received enthusiastic popularity with his genius performance and striking good looks, but committed suicide at 32. Over 300 pieces of shini-e (a kind of woodblock print that is a portrait of a deceased figure inscribed with his Buddhist name or date of death) were thought to have been printed. Also being a master of painting and calligraphy, he left masterpieces under other pseudonyms including Sanjo and Yauan.

102 Yauan giga[寄別6-4-3-3]The cover of Yauan giga

Yauan is a pseudonym used by Ichikawa Danjuro VIII. The collection includes many light-touched drawings as if they had been drawn impromptu, and provides a profound impression with humor in places. The right page on display seemingly shows the main character of Shibaraku, kabuki juhachiban (the repertoire of eighteen classical kabuki plays). Danjuro VIII performed the Shibaraku role right after succeeding to the stage name. The left page displays a drawing of daruma with a haiku (a Japanese poem with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern) possibly by Danjuro VIII attached. Daruma’s sullen face looks humorous.

The 13th frame of Yauan giga

KAWANABE Kyosai, 1831-1889

A portrait of KAWANABE KyosaiA Japanese-style painter. After becoming apprenticed to ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi at the age of six, he changed his master to Maemura Towa and then Kano Tohaku and obtained the license of the Kano School. He started drawing ukiyo-e around the end of the Ansei era (1854-1860). With his brushwork full of humor and exceptional drawing skills, he has been highly acclaimed at home and abroad.

103 Kyosai enikki, 1876-1888[WA31-14]The cover of Kyosai enikki , vol.3

Kyosai had continued to keep a picture diary every day since the beginning of the Meiji era (1868-1912) until a month before his death. His light-touched depictions of scenes about guests in everyday life, painting, and lessons at pupils’ houses never let the viewers get tired of looking. It is said that his picture diaries were already so highly reputed at that time that Kyosai’s acquaintances took away each one of the diaries immediately after he finished it, so no diaries were left at the Kawanabe Family in the end. The right page depicts Josiah Conder stretching out his very long legs as if he did not know what to do with them while sitting in a chair. British architect Conder became a pupil of Kyosai in 1881 with the pseudonym of Kyoei.

The 47th frame of Kyosai enikki , vol.3

MIZUNO Toshikata, 1866-1908

A portrait of MIZUNO ToshikataAn ukiyo-e and Japanese-style painter, known as a representative painter of the Meiji era genre painting. Became apprenticed to ukiyo-e artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi when 14 years old. He drew his original pictures of historical subjects while being active as an illustrator for newspapers and magazines, and formed the Ukiyo-e School in modern Japanese art circles. His works are distinguished by his delicate and elegant style. Kaburaki Kiyokata was one of his pupils.

104 Mizuno Toshikata sanjurokkasen shitae[寄別13-35]The cover of Mizuno Toshikata sanjurokkasen shitae

The sanjurokkasen, a set of 36 pieces of oban (large-sized) nishiki-e, is Toshikata’s renowned masterpiece. Each piece inscribed with a title including the name of an era mainly in the Edo period, such as Women in the Genroku era (1688-1704) and Women in the Bunsei era (1818-1830), depicts a beautiful woman in the costume of the chosen era (e.g. clothing and hair style) with seasonal features. The series distinctly exhibits the characteristics of Toshikata also well known as a painter who studied historical manners and customs thoroughly. The rough sketches of the work previously owned by Toshikata have an ownership stamp in the lower right. The related material is a printed nishiki-e version. Both are seems to be graceful bijin-ga, typical of Toshikata’s work.

The 8th frame of Mizuno Toshikata sanjurokkasen shitae

104 Related material: Sanjurokkasen, AKIYAMA Buemon, 1893[本別7-292]The cover of Sanjurokkasen

The19th frame of Sanjurokkasen

KAWASE Hasui, 1883-1957

A portrait of KAWASE HasuiA woodblock artist. Applied to be an apprentice of Kaburaki Kiyokata, but was refused and learned Western-style painting on his advice. Later Hasui re-applied and became apprenticed to Kiyokata at the age of 27. In 1918, impressed by a woodblock print by Ito Shinsui, he also presented his work of woodblock prints. Since then he repeatedly went sketching while travelling across Japan and produced a number of masterpieces of landscape woodblock prints based on his sketches. He has an established reputation on his sensitive description of landscape.

105 Iyo Kawanoe, 1934[寄別7-3-1-7]The cover of Iyo Kawanoe

A watercolor painting. The work has an inscription in the lower left, saying, “Hasui / Iyo Kawanoe / on Jan. 28, Showa 9”. This is a work depicting the landscape of former Kawanoe City (present Shikokuchuo City) located in the eastern end of Ehime Prefecture. Hasui traveled across Shikoku and the Kansai regions from January to February 1934. His sketches with compositions closely similar to ones on the trip survive in his sketch-book of the day (privately owned). Although the woodblock prints entitled Japanese sceneries II, Kansai series were published based on his sketches made during the trip, except for the drawing in the inserted material, which has not been made into a woodblock print.
Working intensively on woodblock prints, Hasui also produced his original paintings at times, dependent on customers’ orders or due to his economic conditions. The National Diet Library owns 11 more of his watercolor paintings besides this work.

Iyo Kawanoe

106 Tokaido Satta-toge, 1935[寄別7-3-1-7]The cover of Tokaido Satta-toge

A watercolor painting. The work has an inscription in the lower left, saying, “Tokaido Satta-toge / in Dec. Showa 10 / Hasui”. The work, with much the same design as that of his woodblock-print work Satta-toge no Fuji released in April 1935, is presumed to have been drawn as a separate watercolor painting, not as an original painting for a print, as the inserted material shows his signature and seal on the work. Satta-toge is a pass located in Shizuoka Prefecture known as a scenic spot as well as a place hard to pass along the Tokaido highway. This place also appears in Tokaido gojusantsugi by UTAGAWA Hiroshige.

Tokaido Satta-toge

ASAI Chu, 1856-1907

A portrait of ASAI ChuA Western-style painter. Entered Kobu Bijutsu Gakko (the Technical Fine Arts School) in 1876 right after its establishment and was under the tutelage of Italian painter Antonio Fontanesi. He founded with his companion Japan’s first Western-style painting organization Meiji Bijutsukai (Meiji Art Society) and, after serving as a professor at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, he studied in France for two years from 1900. After returning, he moved to Kyoto and left a notable achievement as a leader in the Kansai art circles. His legacy includes the famous landscape Gure no fuyu (lit. Landscape of Grez-sur-Loing in winter) drawn during his stay in France.

107 Asai Chu gacho[寄別3-1-2-1]The cover of Asai Chu gacho

An accordion book created by pasting Asai’s 11 watercolor works on its pages. Among them, nine were drawn on silk cloth and two were on paper. His rather simple brushwork gave all his works a light-touch finish. The works exhibit typical Asai’s features of depictions of farm village landscapes and people’s daily life, while the period when he drew them remains unknown. Being a painter good at not only oil painting but also watercolor painting, Asai produced many watercolor paintings particularly in his last years. From the end of the Edo period to the early Meiji era, the Western-style painting techniques were brought to Japan. Asai is a representative Japanese watercolor painter at the beginning of that period who also wrote guidebooks on watercolor painting.

The 6th frame of Asai Chu gacho

KANO Hogai, 1828-1888A portrait of KANO Hogai

A portrait of KANO HogaiA Japanese-style painter. Born in the family of an official painter of the Chofu Domain. Despite learning at the Kano School in his early days, he pursued his own original way, breaking free from tradition. He was acknowledged by Ernest Francisco Fenollosa and devoted himself to revolutionizing Japanese painting in concert with Okakura Tenshin.

108 Bakufu no zu, [1887][WA47-4]The facing part of Bakufu no zu

This is a work produced in 1887 with an inscription of “Hogai/painted at age sixty” in the lower right. Since that year, Hogai started producing his final work, magnum opus Hibo Kannon (lit. Kannon as Merciful Mother). The next year he was appointed as an instructor at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, but passed away on November 5 before the school started. He also left several masterpieces with the subject matter of sheer cliffs, rocks, and mountain streams as represented by Kengai sansui-zu (lit. Landscape painting with overhanging cliff) and Ganseki (lit. Rock).

Bakufu no zu