A study of “modernity” in the Yamato-e revival
332 , 2016-04-01 , 関西大学東西学術研究所
This paper is a consideration of “modernity” in the Yamato-e revival of early modern times. The “Yamato-e revival” is a general term for painters (and their works) during the latter part of the Edo period (1603‒1867) who attempted to breathe new life into traditional Japanese-style painting (Yamato-e) after meticulous research into the techniques and practices of earlier artists and a direct study of ancient works. As a school of painting, their position in art history is quite distinct from that of the Tosa school, who had an established position within society as professional Yamato-e painters. Tanaka Totsugen(1767‒1823), Ukita Ikkei (1795‒1859), and Reizei Tamechika (1823‒1864), are usually spoken of as the central figures in the Yamato-e revival, while later Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) artists such as Kikkawa Reika (1875‒1929) and Matsuoka Eikyu (1881‒1938) may also be thought of as having connections to it. In any case, we must first consider these painters involved in Yamato-e from a perspective transcending historical periodizations such as early modern and modern. The vigorous activities of later painters in publicly honoring Reizei Tamechika for his unrecognized works has influenced our present-day interpretation of the Yamato-e revival. Next, I will analyze Kikkawa Reika’s role in promoting Reizei Tamechika, and Nakabe Yoshitaka’s critical assessment of Tamechika’s “modernity.” Finally, by comparing these positions with Fujioka Sakutaro’s Kinsei kaigashi (History of Early Modern Painting), the earliest critical discussion of the Yamato-e revival, I will touch on the elusiveness of the concept of “modernity” in works of art.