Seminar Held by Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems — Letters to Seiki Kuroda from His Foster Mother, Sadako

Seiki Kuroda and his foster mother, Sadako
Part of a letter from Sadako to Seiki Kuroda dated July 9th, 1886

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) possesses a number of letters addressed to Seiki Kuroda (1866-1924), a Western-style painter who contributed greatly to the foundation of the Institute. As these letters are important materials for understanding his human network, the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems has been working on their transcription and investigation. Among them, there are letters that were exchanged between Kuroda and his family. With the objective of also focusing on such communications with his family, Mr. Jun TANAKA, Research Assistant of the Department, gave a research presentation titled “Transcription and Bibliographical Introduction of Letters to Seiki Kuroda from His Foster Mother, Sadako Kuroda” at the Departmental seminar.
 Sadako Kuroda (1842-1904), the wife of Kiyotsuna Kuroda who adopted Seiki as his heir, raised Seiki from his infancy. The letters sent to Sadako from Seiki during his period of study in France had already been transcribed and published in “Diary of Seiki Kuroda” (Chuo Koron Art Publishing Corporation, 1966). At this seminar, over 70 letters from Sadako to Seiki were introduced. As was the case with the letters from Seiki to Sadako, the letters from Sadako were also written in plain kana characters with colloquial expressions inserted here and there. The contents pertain mostly to family news, telling Seiki, who was studying abroad, the recent events of family members in detail and her husband Kiyotsuna’s intention. She thus seems to have been serving as a mediator between the father and the son. In particular, when Seiki, who had left for France to study law, decided to direct his efforts toward becoming a painter, it is worth noting that Sadako, together with Kiyotsuna, expressed her support by writing, “It’s a very, very good idea” in her letter dated July 9th, 1886. It would be no exaggeration to say that the painter Seiki Kuroda came into being thanks to such emotional support from his foster parents. This seminar has given us an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of family ties in Kuroda’s accomplishments as a painter.

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