The Holding of a Study Meeting of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems “Issues Related to Letters to Seiki Kuroda from Saburosuke Okada”

A postcard written by Saburosuke Okada, dated December 5, 1896
A letter partly written by Yachiyo Okada under the name of Saburosuke Okada, dated June 30, 1911

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, possesses a large number of letters sent to Seiki Kuroda (1866-1924), an oil painter deeply involved in the establishment of the institute. The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems promotes republication and study on the letters as important materials to suggest a network of people surrounding Kuroda, while also asking for the cooperation of researchers outside the institute. As part of the efforts, we held a study meeting on August 31 for staffers at the department on letters from Saburosuke Okada, who established academia of Japan’s modern oil painting together with Kuroda. Presenters and titles of their presentations are as follows.
· Ms. Yuri Takayama (curator at the Fukuoka Prefectural Museum of Art)
“Letters to Seiki Kuroda from Saburosuke Okada: Republication and Bibliographical Introduction”
· Mr. Seiichi Matsumoto (deputy director of the Saga Prefectural Museum and the Saga Prefectural Art Museum)
“The Image of Saburosuke Okada observed in the novels of Yachiyo Okada”
 Seiki Kuroda said that letters in Saburosuke Okada’s own handwriting “are worthy of designation as a national treasure in the future.” This means that Okada rarely wrote a letter on his own. In the presentation by Ms. Takayama, she suggested that there is a difference in the handwriting in the letters sent to Kuroda under the name of Okada, and provided further insights into the persons who wrote the letters under the name of Okada. Okada’s wife Yachiyo, one of such persons, was also active as a novelist and drama critic. In the presentation by Mr. Matsumoto, he introduced a newly discovered manuscript of Yachiyo’s novel reflecting her own view on married couples as well as letters sent to Kuroda that were written by Yachiyo under the name of Okada. He showed the image of Okada through the eyes of a woman who was married to a painter. While letters in the modern age are generally seen as important as primary documents in the sender’s own handwriting, this study meeting offered an opportunity to reaffirm the difficulty of understanding letters through the case of letters written by other people under the name of a sender and the excitement of revealing new human relationships surrounding a sender by discovering his/her relationship with people writing letters for the sender.

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