TO CONTENTS

No.68

AUGUST 1937

This summary is compiled by Mr. TAKASHI KATSUKI.

 

 

A BRONZE STATUETTE OF BODHISATTVA

By Prof. YUKIO YASHIRO

 

The present Bronze Statuette of Bodhisattva in the collection of the Imperial Art School of Tokye is published here because of its unusual type and its rare artistic merit. The records of the Art School merely mention that the statuette came into the possession of the School in April, 1889, having been transferred from the Department of Education. Its provenance is unknown although it must have originally belonged to some temple in Nara.

The statuette including the base was cast as a whole, leaving the inside hollow from top to bottom. It is unusually large among those of its kind and is complete except for a part of the diadem on the forehead, and a lotus petal of the pedestal. There must have been a still lower part of the base attached to the statuette, which has disappeared and of which we do not know the exact shape.

The short, stout body has a somewhat unproportionally large head, hands and feet. The trunk is curved a little charmingly above the waist. These features lend to the statuette a sensuous strength, which is rare among Japanese statuettes of the period.

Among examples which can be compared with the present work in point of technique are the attendants of the Yakushi triad in the Horyu-ji temple, Nara. Yakushi, the central deity, is purely in the Suiko style while the attendants which are later additions are in the Hakuho style which is noticeable in the showy corpulence of the body. These attendant Bodhisattvas resemble the statuette of the Art School, which, however, is executed with a far more careful elaboration.

The draperies and jewelry of the present statuette are conceived with a sense of grandeur, and the particular way of decorating the statuette by embossing with tiny jewel-like studs all the edges noticeable in the statuette, the draperies, the leaves of the lotus of the pedestal, etc., is very remarkable. Decorative treatment of this kind began in the Suiko period but was most fashionable in the Hakuho period, and examples are seen among standard works like those in the Imperial collection and others.

Next, the question arises as to whether this statuette was really made in Japan in the Hakuho period or brought over from China as a model at the time. The general impression of the statuette is one of heaviness, which is rare in Japanese sculpture: the exquisite workmanship in detail can be compared with that of the wooden sculpture of the Nine-Headed Avalokitesvara in the Horyu-ji temple, which was brought over from T'ang China. These reasons, together with others, might induce us to think it was of Chinese workmanship, and there are scholars who attribute the work definitely to China.

The present writer, however, opposes such theories and his reasons are as follows: although the heaviness of the statuette is an argument in favor of its continental origin that characteristic is neither so clear nor so conclusive. The same might also be said of the excellent technical achievement shown in the decorative part of the present statuette. Such a degree of technical excellence is rare even among the famous Forty-Eight Bronze Statuettes in the Imperial collection, which are really flowers of Japanese workmanship of the period, but still it does not exclude the theory of Japanese origin, as examples of similar sort though somewhat inferior in execution are not entirely lacking in Japan.

Comparing the present statuette with similar works extant in Japan, there are found many characteristics common to all, so that the writer is inclined to imagine it was made by one of those artists who worked for the group of temples in the Nara district, of which Horyu-ji was the most important center, as the materials for comparison are mostly found among the timehonored collections of these temples. On these grounds the writer sets the date of the present statuette of Bodhisattva as the beginning of the Hakuho period, which still retains the style of the previous period side by side with the new technique.

 

 

VINCENZO RAGUSA AND HIS WORK

By KENJIRO KUMAMOTO

 

With the waning popularity of the Buddhistic faith the activities of the art world, especially sculpture, lost momentum and full to untold depths at the beginning of the Meiji era and the only sculptural expression surviving was in minor arts such as architectural ornament, no-mask, doll, netsuke, and ivory-work.

Under these circumstances in the ninth year of Meiji (1876) an art school of painting and sculpture was founded in Tokyo and maintained under the supervision of the Department of Industry. This was the first art school ever founded by the government in Japan. Especial emphasis was placed on sculptural art--we are told that the number of applicants for the section of sculpture was far less than those for the painting section-and those who registered in the sculpture section were to be trained at the government's expense. Thesie facts reveal how badly the sculptural art had become estranged fron public interest. The time was now urgent for drastic measures.

Upon recommendation of the Italian government three Italian artists were sent over to the Art School to hold instructorships, namely, Vincenzo Ragusa (1841-1927) whom we will discuss in this article--in sculpture, Antonio Fontanesi (1818-1882)--in drawing and Cappelletti--in the preparatory course. The acceptance of teachers in art from Italy alone was chiefly based on the Industrial Ministry's adoption of the proposal by Conte Alessandro Fe, then Italian Minister to Tokyo, in view of the foreign influences on matters of cultural relations in Japan, that is to say, military training and legislation by French, engineering by British and so forth.

Ragusa started teaching at the Department of lndustry's Artschool following his arrivral at Yokohama in November, 1876. The Contract signed by Ragusa and Mr. Masataka Kawase, then Japanese minister to Rome, consisted of ten items of which the most important were, in short, as follows:

"Item 1--That Mr. Ragusa as a teacher of sculpture shall teach the art of carving of mask, animal, flower and fruit. His teaching locality is subject to change at the order of the authorities. The term of contract is three years.

Item 2--That Mr. Ragusa will sail for Tokyo within three months after the date of writing.

Item 3--That Mr. Ragusa will carry out his duties under the guidance of his superior regardless of whether he is a Japanese or a foreigner.

Item 4--That Mr. Ragusa will not engage in any commercial business while he is employed by the government.

Item 6--That Mr. Ragusa will be paid Yen 3,330 a year in monthly installments.

Item 8--Living facilities and medical care will be supplied by the government during his term of contract.

Item 10--The government reserves the right to break the contract should Mr. Ragusa's behaviour be found to be illegal or immoral."

Ragusa was born in Partanna outside the city of Palermo, Italy, in 1841. Before entering military service at the age of twenty, he studied drawing and ivory-carving, but later after he resumed his creative life, his work was honored with the highest prize at the art exhibition held in Milano in 1872. A marble statue entitled "Bucchus as a Boy" (cut. p. 10) is typical of his works at that time. Three years later when the competitive exhibition which was to choose a sculptor to be sent to Japan was held, Ragusa was the winner.

The curricula given at the Art School of the Department of Industry, fairly common to both sculpture and painting sections, consisted of perspectivpe drawing as a fundamental study for painting, copying of paintings and plaster models, still-life and life. For the last mentioned, however, the model was never nude but always clothed. Ragusa lectured in French and was interpreted by an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The diploma of graduation was only conferred upon those who were recognized to have been fully qualified regardless of the length of time spent--although the latter was generally around four years.

Ragusa, on the other hand, having a studio to himself in his residence in Mita, Tokyo, produced many portrait sculptures including those of notables, actors and common people during his sojourn of seven years in Japan (Pls. VIII-XI, cut. p. 16). Sixteen of these works were given to the Imperial Art School of Tokyo by Mrs. Eleonora Ragusa, formerly Miss Tama Kiyohara, in 1933 and they are kept in the Ragusa Memorial Hall on the campus of the same School. Other of his works including the "Statue of Napoleon I" which was made at the order of the Imperial family also remain in the Imperial Household. In recognition of his service in the art world Ragusa was received in audience by Emperor Meiji in February, 1879. Although his works rarely bear the signature and date the portrait statue, "Miss Tama Kiyohara" (Pl. XI, iii) of the Imperial Art School of Tokyo is known with certainty to be that of 1878 because the sitter is said to have been seventeen years old when she sat for the model, and the portrait statue, "Nagahiro Kuroda" (Pl. VIII, i) also of the Imperial Art School of Tokyo is dated 1881.

Renewing his contract in 1879 for a second term Ragusa showed as ever much interest and enthusiasm but unfortunately the Art School was forced to close in January, 1883. A few months before in June, 1882, twenty students were graduated for the first and last time. No record has been found regarding the cause of the discontinuation of the Art School but it was likely due to the financial ditficulties resulting from the civil war and the strengthening of public opinion in regard to the preservation of the national art. In August, 1882, before the Art School was officially closed Ragusa left Japan for Palermo taking with him Japanese and Chinese art objects he had acquired; these collections are now maintained by the Museo Prestorico Chierchieriano in Rome. He was honored for his contribution to the Japanese cultural world by having the Fifth Class Order of the Rising Sun conferred upon him in June, 1884.

With him to Italy went a Japanese lacquer artist by the name of Einosuke Kiyohara, his wife who was skillful in the embroidery work and their daughter Tama.

Upon his return to Palermo Ragusa opened the Scuola Superiore d'Arte Applicata in which Kiyohara and his wife were made instructors under his direction, but owirlg to the difficulties in obtaining lacquer materials Kiyohara and his wife, after having taught for about six years, returned to Japan leaving their daughter Tama who was married to Ragusa later in 1889 in Palermo.

The end to Ragusa's long life came in Palermo in 1927 at the age of eighty-six, and in October, 1933, his widow returned to Japan, after staying more than half a century in Italy. Now, she lives quietly in Shiba, Tokyo, enjoying the rest of her life in the studio.

 

 

STUDIES ON THE SUBJECT OF THE MOUNTED WARRIOR IN JAPANESE PAINTING (Part II)

By SHIN-ICHI TANI

 

In the previous number the writer brought the question regarding the famous "Portrait of Takauji Ashikaga" of Jizo-in temple to light in deciding that it was the portrait of Yoshihisa Ashikaga, instead. In the present number he takes up another portrait said to be of the first Shogun Takauji in Mr. Moriya's private collection.

The latter as seen in the reproduction (Pl. V) bears a written seal above the mounted soldier which is generally believed to be the second Shogun Yoshiakira's. If this seal is his true signature we should be convinced that the portrait is that of Takauji. Despite the existence of the written seal the present writer doubts the identity of the portrait as being that of Takauji, mainly due to its unusual appearance as well as to references in old records to a certain portrait of Takauji; he believes the portraits in the style as shown in the figure on page twenty-three to be the true portrait of Takauji, although the remaining examples are only copies.

There is, then, really no convincing example of the Takauji which has so long been most famous among portraits of mounted warriors in general, although it is evident that portraits of Takauji as a mounted warrior were painted and made well known. They apparently stimulated the later productions of this kind of portrait of which the best appeared in the Muromachi period.

Among important remaining works there are portraits of "Sumimoto Hosokawa" (Pl. XII) in the collection of Marquis Maeda and "Yoshioki Ouchi" (cut, p. 25) of which the latter is a copy--no original work is known--and "Takauji Ashikaga" of Jizo-in, which is now considered the portrait of Yoshihisa Ashikaga instead. Beside these the present writer enumerates other examples of the mounted warrior in reference to the old records of the time and explains their origins and background. In the case of the portrait of Yoshihisa as mentioned in the previous number the original motive of that portrait and others like it generany had its derivation in the warriors' participation in certain wars of which their portraits were painted in commemoration and they were just as admired as independent portraits.

It is interesting to know that not only the warrior's portrait was painted but also that of his favorite horse of which one of the most famous among extant examples is the "Horse of Takauji" (Pl. VI). Since the soldier and his horse have always been closely associated with each other, the picture of the horse independent of its master is considered quite natural and the reason for its production was doubtless similar to that of the warrior's.

 

 

EXPLANATION OF THE PLATBS

 

PI. I (Color Plate) Wall-Painting. Detail.

Color on paper. Mounted on wall.

Height: 248 cm.; width: 378 cm.

Emman-in Temple, Shiga.

 

In the Bijutsu Kenkyu, No. XXXV (Pls., VI & VII), the present wall-painting was previously introduced by Mr. Kisaku Tanaka of the Institute as a masterpiece of the Momoyama period, but, as this wall-painting has been reproduced in color for the present number the translator offers a description, particularly, for the benefit of those who overlooked the old number.

According to tradition and old records the present building of Emman-in temple, with the above-mentioned wall-painting and many other art objects, was given by Emperor Meisho when the Imperial palace was rebuilt by the third Shogun of the Tokugawa government in the nineteenth year of Kan-ei (1642).

Unfortunately, the wall-painting is badly defaced chiefly due to the fact that the building which housed it was used as the prefectural office at the beginning of the Meiji era. Beneath the various spots where colors are missing the original linear drawings are sadly exposed on a gold ground. Yet, it is a charming composition, one rich in variety and which makes a skillful use of the 'cloud shape' pattern; the facile linear brush strokes and the refined color harmony as well as the composition all suggest to us that this work must have been done by a certain master's hands of the Kano school. Moreover, it was done sometime before the end of the Kan-ei era, if we can believe tradition. In view of the style, therefore, Mr. Tanaka is inclined to set the date in the middle of the Keicho era (1596-1614).

 

PI. II & VII Bodhisattva.

Bronze.

Height: 42 cm., including the stand.

The Imperial Art School of Tokyo.

(See the article by Prof. Yukio Yashiro)

 

Pl. III-IV Sages Among Mountains, by Chokuan (Japanese, active XVI century).

Slight color on paper. Mounted as a pair of six-fold screens.

Height: 159.5 cm.; width: 360 cm.

Henjoko-in Temple, Wakayama.

Explanation by Hajime Watanabe.

 

It should be remembered that this work is well known as a rare example representing figure paintings by Chokuan. This artist as well as his son Nichokuan. also an artist of fame, is famous for his paintings of hawk in which he carried on the family tradition. He was, however, none the less important among contemporary painters like Tohaku, Yusho and Togan who flourished in the best part of the Momoyama period. Chokuan's greatness as an artist is, of course, well represented in the fowl paintings like those of Hoki-in temple of Mt. Koya, mounted as a pair of six-fold screens, but, as seen in the present screens and those of the "Dragon and Tige " of the Imperial Household Museum of Tokyo, although neither can hardly be called a masterpiece, he is neverthless considered to have been an able painter of the popular subjects of his days.

In the sharp angular representation of the rocks, mountains in the far distance and in the folds of the clothes of the figures we see the conventionalized style peculiar to his work. Simple but effective is the use of Chinese ink in which the mountains are drawn in contrast to the figures in the foreground with plum-blossoms, bamboo-grass painted in subdued color. Thus, the artist's unerring technique and decorative expression bring forth sufficient results to a certain degree. It is difficult, however, to describe immediately whether his work was superior to others having the same subject-matter but done by various artists who belonged also to the Kano school as did Chokuan. The parallel lines found on the rocks and everywhere are distracting to the eyes and his composition lacks depth.

Unfortunately, his works in which the date of execution is indicated are extremely limited in number (e. g., "Pair of Fowl and Nestlings", Bijutsu Kenkyu, No. XXXV, Pl. IV). Neither among those nor in any other remaining example by the same artist do we find any similarity in style to the present work unless it be the "Dragon and Tiger" of the same Museum. Our only clue to the date of the present work, if indeed it can be called a clue, lies in its decorativeness, for it was in the period after the maturity of his art had been reached that we find examples bearing this characteristic.

 

Pl. V Mounted warrior.

Color on silk. Mounted as kakemono.

Height: 103 cm.; width: 53.3 cm.

Collection of Mr. Kozo Moriya, Kyoto.

(See the article by Shin-ichi Tani)

 

Pl. VI Horse.

Color on paper. Mounted as kakemono.

Height: 66.6 cm.; width: 57.9 cm.

Collection of Mr. Kozo Moriya, Kyoto.

(See the article by Shin-ichi Tani)

 

Pl. VIII (i) Portrait of Nagahiro Kuroda, Vincenzo Ragusa, Italian, 1841-1927.

Plaster. Height: 65 cm.

The Imperial Art School of Tokyo.

 

(ii) Portrait of Yozo Yamao, by the same artist.

Plaster. Height: 71 cm.

Collection of Viscount Saburo Yamao, Tokyo.

(see the article by Kenjiro Kumamoto)

 

Pl. IX (i) Portrait of Keisuke Otori, by the same artist.

Plaster. Height: 66 cm.

Collection of Mr. Toyohiko Ootri, Tokyo.

 

(ii) Japanese Carpenter, by the same artist.

Plaster. Height: 75 cm.

The Imperial Art School of Tokyo.

(See the article by Kenjiro Kumamoto)

 

Pl. X (i) Japanese Actor, by the same artist.

Plaster. Height: 78 cm.

The Imperial Art School of Tokyo.

 

(ii) Girl, by the same artist.

Plaster. Height: 27 cm.

The Imperial Art School of Tokyo.

(See the article by Kenjiro Kumamoto)

 

Pl. XI (i) Portrait of Japanese Lady, by the same artist.

Plaster. Height: 62 cm.

The Imperial Art School of Tokyo.

 

(ii) Portrait of Miss Tama Kiyohara, by the same artist.

Plaster. Height: 49 cm.

The Imperial Art School of Tokyo.

(See the article by Kenjiro Kumamoto)

 

Pl. XII Portrait of Sumimoto Hosokawa.

Color on silk. Mounted as kakemono.

Height: 119.7 cm.; width: 59.7 cm.

Collection of Marquis Toshitame Maeda, Tokyo.

(See the article by Shin-ichi Tani)

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