ASIA212Varley

More important it was about this time that a number

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Unformatted text preview: try during the mid-seventeenth century. Not until the rise of Dutch Studies about a hundred years later did knowledge of Western art again make its way into Japan. Subsequently, nearly all of the major, vital schools of painting in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were influenced to a greater or lesser degree by Western techniques. Some painters, like Shiba Kòkan, went over entirely to the foreign medium and learned to paint in precise technical imitation of the Western manner. Curiously, however, the work of Kòkan and other pioneer Western-style painters seems to have fallen into obscurity, and some artists in the last years of the Tokugawa shogunate, after Japan had been opened by Perry, laboriously set about to learn Western painting on their own from the few foreign-language manuals they could acquire without being aware of what Kòkan and his fellow proponents of Dutch Studies had already accomplished. Encounter with the West 265 The most prominent person in the late Tokugawa and early Meiji efforts to develop and popularize Western art in Japan was Kawakami Tògai (1827–81).27 A moderately skilled artist in the bunjin or literati style of painting, Kawakami took up the study of the Dutch language sometime about the 1850s and soon turned his attention also to European painting. In 1857 he joined the shogunate’s Office for Barbarian Studies, the organization that also employed a number of the later members of the Meiji Six Society, and within a few years was appointed to head its newly established section on the study of painting. After the Restoration, Kawakami, who was primarily interested in the practical, scientific side of Western painting, was engaged by the Ministry of Education to develop teaching methods and prepare training manuals on art for use in public schools. Among the innovations he sponsored was instruction in realistic drawing with pencils, rather than painting with the traditional Japanese ink-brush. In 1876 the Meiji government, continuing its policy of encouragement of Western-style art, opened the Industrial Art School (Kòb...
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