Survey and Research on Reassessment of KURODA Seiki

This is a research project to reassess the history of Japanese modern painting through KURODA Seiki's works.


The portraits in the collection of the Kuroda Memorial Hall including Lakeside, and other portraits in the possession of other organizations are the focal points to review KURODA as portrait artist. Based on the images optically acquired from his works, his production process is being studied by comparing to portraits painted by other artist in his age. By repeating such surveys, we may verify how KURODA took a stand against persons he had painted portraits while placing importance in the fundamental expression of oil paintings. In parallel, we are also surveying his relationship to those models drawn in a large number of portraits by relevant materials. Thus, the research is to examine the significance of portrait paintings from various standpoints.

Portrait of Mr. KIMURA by KURODA Seiki, collection of the Institute

Comparative survey of the portraits of the same model painted by KURODA Seiki and WADA Eisaku

Optical survey of Lakeside by KURODA

Research of "Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment" by KURODA Seiki, Using infrared photography

"Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment" is one of the most important work in the modern Japanese art history since it is the first oil painting of Japanese female in nude painted by a Japanese oil painter. It influenced the expression of human figure in modern Japanese paintings.

No sketch remains for this work, which makes the survey on its painting process difficult. Infrared photography has enabled to show the lines underneath the oil painting layer and revealed the corrections made by the artist himself.

Complete picture of "Wisdom"

Kuroda Seiki says that "Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment" expresses the three schools of the contemporary painting then, and "Wisdom" is assumed to express "ideal".

"Wisdom": Near-infrared transmission photography (portion of the face)

"Wisdom": Near-infrared reflection photography (portion of the face)

The fingers held over the face and the seven seemingly drawn outlines are identified.

Re-grasp totally Kuroda's works

The purpose of this project is to re-grasp totally Kuroda's works who was a painter, educator of art, and administrator. To achieve this goal, materials and resources should be read again, and surveys should be made at the places where the works of art were actually painted.

A page of Kuroda's sketchbook

During his stay in France, Kuroda visited various places and made sketches. Brehat island in Bretagne peninsula, located 500 km away from Paris, is one of those places. In one of his sketchbooks, landscapes and people there are lively depicted.

Brehat Island today(photographed in October 2001)

Brehat Island is a small island which measures 3 km from south to north. The beautiful scenery there is somehow different from that of mainland France, and the island is known as a summer visiting spot. kuroda first visited there in 1892 with KUME Keiichiro.

Letters to KURODA from ASAI Chu (top) and YAMAMOTO Hosei (bottom)

Over 3000 letters to Kuroda are preserved in the Department of Fine Arts. Only a part of them has been used for studies. The survey of all the letters through which to look into the network around Kuroda, and publicizing the materials are now in process.