Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems: Reading letters addressed to Seiki Kuroda from Yoshimatsu Goseda

Yoshimatsu Goseda (right) and Seiki Kuroda
From a commemorative photo of a get-together among Bun-ten exhibitors (“Bijutsu Shinpo” Vol. 12, No. 2 December 1923)

 The Institute owns a large number of letters addressed to Seiki Kuroda (1866-1924), a Western-style painter who was deeply involved in establishing the Institute. Regarding them as valuable materials that help us look into a network of personal contacts involving Kuroda, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems has worked on their republication and research, while seeking cooperation from outside researchers. As part of this initiative, Mr. Takuro Tsunoda, a curator of the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History, was invited to give a presentation titled “Reading letters addressed to Seiki Kuroda from Yoshimatsu Goseda – Profile, Tokyo School of Fine Arts, and History of Western-style Painting in the Meiji Period” at the seminar of the department held on April 21.
 In recent years, Yoshimatsu Goseda (1855-1915), who is one of the leading Western-style painters in the first half of the Meiji period, has been reevaluated and reviewed through exhibitions and studies by Mr. Tsunoda. Yoshimatsu, who grew up in a family of machie-shi (town painters), went to France earlier than Seiki Kuroda and won a prize at a salon, displaying his talent. After returning to Japan in 1889, however, his activities were rather low-profile. Thus, he was treated as a person whose existence has been forgotten in art circles. Mr. Tsunoda’s presentation this time dealt with the details surrounding the latter half of Yoshimatsu’s life, which had not been told very much, through 25 letters that he addressed to Kuroda since 1908. In many of these letters, Yoshimatsu, who was trying to sell his old works to the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, asked Kuroda, who was a professor of the school, to go between. Kuroda replaced the previous generation, including Yoshimatsu, and led the world of Western-style painting in those days. In fact, a great many Western-style paintings that Yoshimatsu created in the early Meiji period while he was in Europe, such as “Ayatsuri Shibai,” were included in the collection at the school, where Kuroda worked, allowing you to make a survey of the trends in Western-style paintings from the early to the late Meiji period. Mr. Tsunoda’s presentation was an attempt to find positive significance in the creation of the history of Western-style painting in the Meiji period from exchanges between Yoshimatsu and Kuroda, which went beyond their respective positions, and reminded us of the importance of these letters that describe the background.

Receiving Papers of Researcher Emeritus Denzaburo NAKAMURA

Part of the papers of Denzaburo Nakamura

 We received papers of Mr. Denzaburo NAKAMURA, a researcher emeritus of the Institute (1916-1994), from Mr. Toru Nakamura, a family member of the deceased, as of April 30th. Denzaburo was a researcher on Japanese modern sculpture and held a position at the Institute of Art Research attached to the National Museum (currently, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Institute) from 1947 until he resigned from the post in 1978. He researched on authors of sculpture, such as Auguste Rodin, Morie Ogiwara, Denchu Hirakushi, Taketaro Shinkai and Seibo Kitamura, and also conducted a systematic survey into sculpture organizations that existed in the Meiji period and later, thereby taking the initiative in empirical research in the Japanese history of modern sculpture. On top of these, he was engaged in research on the trends in contemporary art of the times centered on sculpture and stereoscopic molding as well as critiquing, which contributed to authors’ creative activities significantly. The materials that the family member donated to the Institute were: 1) Publications by, and documents related to, the Rokuzan Art Museum; 2) Materials related to Rokuzan Ogiwara; 3) Materials related to Koun, Kotaro and Toyochika Takamura; 4) Materials related to Taketaro Shinkai; 5) Materials related to Nika 70-nenshi (Nika Association, 1985) ; 6) Materials related to the Institute of Art Research and the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo; 7) Materials related to the Cultural Project to Commemorate the Centennial of the Opening of the Country; and 8) Materials related to the Metallplastik aus Japan, each of which is invaluable materials for research on the history of modern and contemporary sculpture.
 Today, these archives generated by a certain individual or organization are widely recognized as valuable research resources and in recent years, heated debate has been conducted by those concerned as to how to prevent them from being scattered and lost, put in place an environment to better utilize them and hand them down to succeeding generations. We have received archives built by our former staff members, including Yukio YASHIRO, Jiro UMEZU, Kei KAWAKAMI, Takeshi KUNO, Osamu TAKATA and Ichimatsu TANAKA, positively and organized them better through initiatives, such as “Research and Development for Storage and Use of Record of Investigation into Works by Various Academic Predecessors and Image Materials and Others – Taking over the Perspectives of Art Historians” (Representative Researcher: Atsushi TANAKA, Basic Research (B) 2009-2012), and offered them through the material reading room. We will try our best to make public the papers of Denzaburo NAKAMURA donated around September this year while paying attention to issues associated with personal information, privacy and material preservation.

Publications related to post-earthquake reconstruction of intangible cultural heritage and disaster prevention

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage published the Report on the Study Project on the Preservation and Utilization of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties: Issues Regarding Reconstruction of Intangible Cultural Heritage from Disasters at the end of the last fiscal year. The publication is not only a report on the project but also a summary of what was discussed at the 3/11 Reconstruction Assistance: Intangible Cultural Heritage Information Network Conference. The Conference has been held every March since 2013 to discuss the reconstruction of intangible cultural heritage affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake with participants from various fields. Many of the issues, which reflect conditions that vary from year to year, are ongoing and the content of the publication may contribute to preventing cultural properties from being affected by a future natural disaster.
 The department also published a booklet titled Cultural Heritage in the Region and Disaster Prevention, which summarizes the outline of the Project for Collecting, Organizing and Sharing Information about Regionally-designated Cultural Properties and of the Research and Study Project on a Dynamic Record for Preserving Cultural Properties. Especially for the project for collecting information on regionally-designated cultural properties, it is important as the first step to identify the location information of the properties by working with local governments. The publication spells out such significance and puts together how to move the project forward.
 Issues Regarding Reconstruction of Intangible Cultural Heritage from Disasters is available in PDF format on the department’s website.

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