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Taguchi Beisaku (1864-1903)


Biographical Data

Biography

Taguchi Beisaku 田口米作 (1864-1903)

Source: The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Volume 2, Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing, 2005, p. 461; Kiyochika Artist of Meiji Japan, Henry D. Smith II, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, p. 14; Illustrating Asia: Comics, Humor Magazines, and Picture Books, John A. Lent, University of Hawaii Press, 2001, P.206; The Sino-Japanese War, Nathan Chaikin, self-published, 1983, p. 33

Beisaku  [go (artist name): Osen] – Born in Ibaraki Prefecture, the son of a rice merchant, he moved to Tokyo in 1873, where he first studied with Nakamura Banzan (b. 1834) and later, from 1881, with Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915).   Little is known about Beisaku's relationship with Kiyochika. He appears as “Taguchi Yoneharu”1 (presumably his given name) on two of the prints in Kiyochika’s One Hundred views of Musashi of 1884-85 as a “touching-up brush.”  Kiyochika also led Beisaku into caricature, enabling him to succeed Kiyochika as chief cartoonist for the Marumaru chinbun in 1892.  As a cartoonist he is credited as playing an important role in the creation of narrative strips.  He created the first serialized short narrative cartoon in 1896, a six-panel cartoon run over three issues.  In the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, Beisaku emerged as a print artist in his own right, designing several war triptychs that were reminiscent of Kiyochika but far more skilled in the presentation of figures.  He was director of Kiyochika’s art school in the mid-1890s, and thereafter continued work at the Marumaru chinbun.  He died young – in 1903 at the age of 39.  His grave can be seen at the Inkoin Temple, 2-6-8 Kotobuki, Daito-ku, Tokyo.  Beisaku left several disciples - Takita Gyuho and Nagata Kinshin, who went to study with Kobayashi Kiyochika after their master's death.

1 also seen as Taguchi Yonesaku.

Colors and Tones

Source: The Sino-Japanese War, Nathan Chaikin, self-published, 1983, p. 33
Chaikan paraphrases the artist as saying:
For a long time, no evolution took place in the art of painting in our country.  One of the major 
reasons being our total unawareness of the laws of colors.  Ignorant of the basic principles ruling the essence of shading colors, we failed to grasp the means directing the traditions of our school. Or, at least, according to our experiences, we more or less attempted to assemble the various ranges of coloring.  Therefore we could not answer questions concerning this phenomenon.  We sorely missed instructions about fundamental principles ruling art in the Meiji period, or improve over the old ways of painting. 

In the introduction to his essay, The New Theory of Colors, Shikisai Sinron claimed: 'All objects existing in the cosmos, visible to our eyes, have colors.  They can be placed grosso modo within two categories: natural and artificial, all pigments consisting of a blend of three major tones.  Born of a single principle which gave birth to an infinity of combination of shades, both varied and exquisite..."

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