Analysis of the Coloring Materials and Painting Expression on the Pigments and Paintings by Kuwayama Gyokushū and Iwase Hirotaka – the 5th Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Discussion and Q&A session

 Kuwayama Gyokushū (1746-1799) and Iwase Hirotaka (1808-1877) were painters who worked actively in Wakayama in the Edo period. Both of them left their own painting tools, including various pigments. This is important because they can be clues to identify coloring materials in the Edo era, such as the pigments. In addition, many of their artworks still exist now. This means that the coloring materials used for their actual artwork can be compared with the pigments in their painting tools, providing a valuable study target.

 The 5th Seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on September 15th, 2022, in TOBUNKEN and online, featuring the interim report of the coloring material analysis of pigments and paintings of Gyokushū and Hirotaka. First, HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro, Deputy Director General reported the results of X-ray fluorescent and visible light reflectance analyses on the coloring materials of both artists. Then, new perspectives including the fact that both gofun (calcium carbonate) and enpaku (lead white) were applied as white pigments, and further challenges were presented. After that, YASUNAGA Takuyo, head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section discussed how Gyokushū used white pigments differently for human faces, as well as the issues of backside coloring referring to the painting of Tosui rakanzu (Luohans crossing the river). Next, Mr. KONDO Takashi of Kyoritsu Women’s Educational Institution introduced the biography of Hirotaka, who was first, an ukiyo-e artist and then became an artist of the FukkoYamato-e (Yamato-e revival) group later. Finally, Mr. KONDO discussed the relationship between Hirotaka’s artworks and the coloring materials referring to the painting of King Lanling and Nasori.

 After the presentations, discussions among the three presenters and a Q&A session were held. An active discussion was conducted regarding the interpretation of the analysis results. The period between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries is important for the understanding of the transition of coloring materials. However, few analysis has been done on coloring materials, including pigments and those of artworks. Consequently, we expect that these studies will reveal the use of coloring materials in the mid and late Edo period.

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