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Shimada Bokusen (1867–1943)

Biographical Data

Shimada Bokusen 島田墨仙 (1867-1943)
Sources: A Dictionary of Japanese Artists: Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Prints, Lacquer, Laurance P. Roberts, Weatherhill, 1976, p. 147 and as footnoted.

Shimada Bokusen, born Shimada Toyo (Yutaka) 島田豊, was the son and pupil of Maruyama school painter Shimada Sekkoku (1828-1884), a retainer of the Fukui fief in Echizen. Bokusen was to go on to study with Hashimoto Gahō (1835-1908) a Kanō school painter who was instrumental in the development of a new type of national painting called nihonga. He was a member of the Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Art Institute) and in 1925 became a committee member of the Teiten (Imperial Academy of Fine Arts). In 1942 he received the Imperial Art Academy Prize. He specialized in portraits of historical figures, working in a revived yamato-e style.

Shimada taught Japanese-style painting to several Western artists including Henry P. Bowie (1848-1920), author of On the Laws of Japanese Painting, and the well-known painter and printmaker Lillian May Miller who "greatly admired Bokusen for his support and his personality, writing, 'He's so keen and full of vitality, and yet so clean and quiet and sweet-natured.'"1

Several examples of the artist's Japanese color on silk paintings and one other extant woodblock print are shown below.

Portrait of Count Tanaka Seizan 
田中青山伯影像, 1928
147.5 x 71 cm
color on silk
Waseda Univesity Library
チ03 03535 0154
Portrait of Sokō Yamaga, 1942
144.8 × 85.8 cm 
color on silk
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

The Loyal Retainers and Hosoi Kōtaku Dog from the Righteous Samurai Collection ( Gishi Taikan), 1920
color woodblock print
IHL Cat. #2376

1 "Lilian Miller: An American Artist in Japan" by Kendall H. Brown appearing in Impressions, No. 27 (2005-2006), p. 82.

last update:
3/29/2019 created