Oiran (Grand Courtesan) by Takahashi Yuichi

Oiran (Grand Courtesan) by Takahashi Yuichi

Oiran (Grand Courtesan) by Takahashi Yuichi from 1872.

This is an early oil painting from the Meiji period in Japan and is significant because it shows one of the early adaptations of oil paint by a Japanese artist. Represented here this Grand Courtesan is painted in the European portrait manner which diverted from the classic ukiyo-e ‘idealized’ manner, but still wearing classic Japanese attire.

It is interesting to note is that although Takahashi took initiative to develop the first fine art magazine in Japan, and was critical in the development of the modern painting there, he died relatively unknown in Japan.

Oiran (Grand Courtesan) by Takahashi Yuichi

Takahashi Yuichi

Born into a samurai family, Takahashi Yuichi (1828-1894) is a descendent of the Hotta Clan. Historical Japanese customs promote calligraphy and painting as indications of class and learning, so when Takahashi became interested in art at an early age, he was sent to the notorious Kanō school to study.

Among Takahashi’s accomplishments are attending the Paris World Exhibition of 1867 and portrait of the Emperor Meiji. He taught at the newly established Kobubijutsu Gakkō (the Technical Fine Arts School), and is considered one of the first painters to adopt oil paints in Japan.

His work exhibits some of the raw simplicity emphasized by the Zen Buddhism philosophy. I enjoy the confident bold strokes, slightly messy (dare I say) lines, and astoundingly plain yet diverse backgrounds.

Still Life – Takahashi Yuichi

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