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Nakazawa Hiromitsu (1874-1964)

Prints in Collection

Biography

Sources: website of the Independent Administrative Institution Nation Institutes for Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties http://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/bukko/9159.html and as footnoted.


self-portrait in pencil, undated
Nakazawa Hiromitsu 中沢弘光 (1874-1964)

Trained as a Western-style (yōga) painter, Nakazawa is, perhaps, best remembered for his illustrations appearing in novels, sketch-tour books, newspapers and magazines.


He is credited with being among the first artists to use novels as a vehicle for his illustrations, the first of which appeared (as a lithograph) in the third volume of Kosugi Tengaiin’s 1903 novel, Makaze Koikaze (Winds of demon and love), a story of a modern upper-class Japanese schoolgirl.1 Along with a number of other Western-style artists, Nakazawa saw the possibilities in the novel for Western-style illustrations. Undoubtedly, his most famous book illustrations (rendered as woodblock prints) were created for Yosano Akiko’s (1878-1942) 1913 translation into modern Japanese of Genji monogatari, titled Shin'yaku genji monogatari (A New Translation of The Tale of Genji).2 “[P]ublished by Kanao Bun’endō with breathtakingly gorgeous woodblock-printed covers and end-pieces and fifty-four 
illustrations by the Western-style painter and illustrator Nakazawa Hiromitsu (1874-1964), [it] received positive reviews in major literary magazines and newspapers…”3

Illustration (lithograph) by Nakazawa appearing in Makaze Koikaze by Kosuki Tengaiin, 1903



The four volumes with slipcovers of Shin'yaku genji monogatari.
The cover designs are by Nakazawa as are all the woodblock illustrations
in the volumes, such as the above illustration from Volume 2.

Early Training
Born in Tokyo’s Shibaura district into a samurai family, Nakazawa lost his parents at a young age and was raised by his grandmother. As a teenager, he studied at Soyama Sachihiko’s (1859-1892) Daikōkan Western-style painting studio, under the tutelage of Soyama and Horie Moriaki (1852–1932). Along with fellow artists Okada Saburōsuke (1869-1939), Wada Eisaku (1874-1959) and Miyake Katsumi (1874-1954) he was to “inherit” the school upon Soyama’s death.4 In 1896, at the age of twenty-two, Nakazawa entered the Western Painting Department of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts studying under Kuroda Seiki (1866-1924), graduating in 19005. While studying with Seiki he participated in the 1896 founding of the Hakubakai (White Horse Society), d
edicated to promoting plein-air French academic painting, contributing woodblock prints to their magazine, Kōfūm.

Sketch-Tour Genre
Source: "Sketch-tour Books and Prints of the Early Twentieth Century" by Scott Johnson, appearing in Andon 37, June 1991
In 1905, Nakazawa began his work both as author and illustrator in the very popular sketch-tour genre, ultimately becoming its most prolific artist. The genre, which saw artists traveling throughout the country and the Japanese colonies sketching and writing about the places visited, lasted until 1920. Nakazawa’s contribution to this genre included:
Gojūsantsugi suketchi (Sketches of the 53 Stations) - published in 1905 and containing five tipped in color woodblock prints designed by the artist (pencil sketches with added color wash) and produced by the famous woodblock carver Igami Bonkotsu (1877-1933) and the well-established printer Nishimura Kumakichi (1861-c.1941). 
Nihon Meishō Shasei Kikō (Sketches and Travel Notes on Japanese Sights) - five volumes published between 1906 and 1912 by Yamada Kyūrō using the work of multiple artists including Nakazawa and containing 55 lithograph and woodblock illustrations.
Kinai kenbutsu (Scenes of the Inner Provinces) - three volumes published by Kanao Tanejirō (1879-1947) (the publishing house Bunendō) in 1911-1912, with the bulk of the illustrations, mainly woodblock prints, carved by Igami and printed by Nishimura. (See this collection's book IHL Cat. #xxx)
Bungei Chiri Tōkaidō Gojūsantsugi (The Topography of the 53 Stations of the Tōkaidō in Words and Pictures) - published by Yokohama Kendō (1871-1943) in 1911 using the work of multiple artists including Nakazawa.
Shin Nihon kenbutsu (Scenes of New Japan) - published by Kanao Bunendō in 1918 showing scenes from the growing Japanese Empire using the work of multiple artists including Nakazawa.6 

right: cover of Shin Nihon kenbutsu, artist unknown
left: color woodblock by Nakazawa from Shin Nihon kenbutsu

Kinai Angya (Pilgrimage to Kinai) - published by Kanao Bunendō in 1919 showing scenes from the five kuni in the immediate vicinity of Kyoto created by multiple artists including Nakazawa.

With the demise of the sketch-tour book, partially due to the rising popularity of shin hanga single sheet landscape prints by artists such as Kawase Hasui (1883-1957)Bunendō began issuing series of single-sheet woodblock prints depicting the artist's travel, with minimal accompanying text, thereby putting primary emphasis on the prints. Continuing to work Bunendō, Nakazawa designed the fifty-print series in 1922 titled Nihon Taikan (A Compendium of Japan) and the 1925 series Saigoku sanjūsan kasho junrei gakan (Pictures of a Pilgrimage to the Thirty-Three Temples in the Western Provinces Saigoku) for the publisher.7 

 Kiyomizu-dera (Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto) Sheet #4 from the series Nihon Taikan (A Compendium of Japan), published by Bun'endō in January 1922.
Carver: Okada Seijirō. Printer: Nishimura Kumakichi
 
To see the complete series go to https://pulverer.si.edu/node/869/title/1
Smithsonian Institution Freer Gallery of Art

Other Illustrations
In addition to illustrations for novels and sketch-tour books, Nakazawa provided artwork for literary magazines including Myōjō 明星 (Morning Star), an influential poetry magazine started by the poet Yosano Tekkan (1878–1942), published between February 1900 and November 1908 and during that same period created a large number of designs for postcards including a 1905 series of deluxe woodblock printed postcards titled Beautiful women and the senses for the publisher Sunbikai in which Nakazawa combined more traditional imagery with European Art Nouveau motifs.8

Beautiful women and the senses, 1905
woodblock printed postcards
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 2002-1051, 1052, 1053, 1054, 1055, 1056

Woodblock Prints - A Sampling

   
Miho no Matsubara yori Mitaru Fuji from the series Twelve Views of Mt. Fuji, 1907
publisher: Bunendō
(source: Artelino.com)
 
Flower of the Wave (Nami no Hana) kuchi-e, c.1910
(source: Artelino.com)

 
Willow Tree on the Bank of Sarusawa Pond (Sarusawa Ike Hotori no Yanagi), 1935
publisher: Katō Junji


 The Heroine Matsukaze from the series the Complete Works of Chikamatsu, 1921


Inn at Gion (Gion no yado),
1935
publisher: Katō Junji
(source: Artelino.com)

 
Dyer's House,
undated
(source: Artelino.com)
Early Spring on Nihonbashi,
c. 1925
(source: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco 1998.120.26)
 

Painting
Nakazawa first started exhibiting his oil paintings with the Meiji Arts Society (Meiji bijutsu-kai), the first Western-style painting society in Japan, but withdrew from that exhibition in 1896 upon the formation of the Hakubakai. As an oil painter his work was accepted into the first Bunten Exhibition (Ministry of Education Exhibition) in 1907 and in 1909 his work Reminiscences (shown below), depicting a Buddhist nun and her vision of the deity Shō Kannon, was awarded second place. He would continue to exhibit regularly with the Bunten and its successor organizations the Teiten and Nitten. In 1910 he became a judge at the Bunten and continued in that role with the Bunten’s successor, the Teiten.

Reminiscences, 1909
oil on canvas, 258.0×127.5 cm

In addition to the artistic organizations noted above, Nakazawa founded the Kofūkai (Light and Wind Club) with Katsumi Miyake and Hisui Sugiura (1876-1965) in 1912 and the Japan Watercolor Painting Society (Nihon Suisaigakai) in 1913. After returning in 1924 from two years of travel in Europe, visiting France, England and Spain,  he founded the Hakujitsu-kai,an organization of Western-style painters still operating today.

Awards and Recognition
Nakazawa was made a member of the Imperial Fine Arts Academy (帝国芸術院会 Teikoku bijutsuin) in 1930 and its successor, the Imperial Art Academy (帝国美術院会 Teikoku geijutsuin) in 1937, and an Imperial Household Artist (Teishitsu gigeiin 帝室技芸員) in 1944.9 After the war, he both exhibited in, and became an advisor to the Nitten and in 1957 he became a “person of cultural merit” (Bunka kōrōsha).10 In May of 1964 he was ordered the 3rd Order of the Rising Sun. 


Hiromitsu passed away at the Nihon Medical University hospital in Tokyo Bunkyo Ward on September 8, 1964 at the age of 91.

Recent Exhibitions

Kichijoji Art Museum, Musashino, "Hiromitsu Nakazawa: Published Art and Sketches from the Meiji and Taisho Periods" 2018

"The accomplished artist Hiromitsu Nakazawa (1874–1964) provided artwork for literary magazines during the Meiji and Taisho periods, including the monthly Myojo, directed by the poet Akiko Yosano. This exhibition looks back on Nakazawa’s creative legacy with more than 200 rare works including sketches as well as printed and published pieces from the height of his career. Also displayed are examples of Nakazawa’s oil and watercolor paintings and a self-portrait by his teacher, the great painter Seiki Kuroda."11
Sogo Museum of Art "Retrospective Exhibition Commemorating the 140th Anniversary
of the Artist's Birth", 2014

"Hiromitsu Nakazawa (1874–1964) was a prominent Western-style painter in the Meiji through Showa eras who also produced outstanding works of design. This exhibition, Nakazawa’s first major retrospective, takes a comprehensive look at his art with major oil paintings, watercolors, sketches, and book designs, shedding light on little-known aspects of his career."12

Signature and Seals
                            
 
弘 Hiro

 


1 the novel was serialized before being published in book form
2 Translation in Modern Japan edited by Indra Levy, Routledge, 2011, p. 243
3 Yosano was a poet, scholar and translator and her translation brought the ancient novel into contemporary colloquial language and made it into popular novel for the masses.
4 Meiji Western Painting,Arts of Japan 6, Minoru Harada, p. 28.
5 The school was founded in 1887 through the efforts of Ernest Fenollosa and Okakura Tenshin to combat the influence of Western art but by 1896 a Western art department was added.
6 to see the complete series go to https://pulverer.si.edu/node/487/title/1 Smithsonian Institution Freer Gallery of Art
7 originally published in 1925 and re-published in 1946, few prints are extant from the original edition.
8 Art of the Japanese Postcard: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Anne Nishimura Morse, J Thomas Rimer, Kendall H Brown, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2004, p. 265.
9 an artist who was officially appointed by the Imperial Household Ministry to create works of art for the Tokyo Imperial Palace and other imperial residences.
10 an official Japanese recognition and honor which is awarded annually to select people who have made outstanding cultural contributions.
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