Hirafuku Hyakusui: A Japanese-Style Painter Who Integrated the Both Elements of Rinpa School and Nanga so as to Develop the Unique Painting Style

Morning Dew

Morning Dew by Hirafuku Hyakusui
Morning Dew by Hirafuku Hyakusui

Hirafuku Hyakusui was born in Akita Prefecture as the fourth son of Hirafuku Suian who was a painter who belonged to Shijō school. Although he was trained for painting by his father since he was 13 years old, the father passed away in the following year. So he went up to Tokyo to become an apprentice of Kawabata Gyokushō who had a close friendship with his father. In 1894, despite he was only 17 years old, he already received the 3rd ranked meritorious mention at the Exhibition of Japan Young Painters Association Kyōshinkai. Afterward, he exhibited at some established exhibitions including the Exhibition of the Nihon Bijutsu Kyokai (Japan Art Association), the Exhibition of Japan Painting Association, and the Nihon Bijutsuin exhibition, and received awards frequently. In 1897 when he was 20 years old, he entered the Department of Japanese-style painting of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts by the recommendation of his friend, Yūki Somei. In 1900, he formed the Museikai (an art association to call for the naturalism) to advocate the naturalism together with Yūki Somei, Fukui Kōtei, and others. While he kept on being active as a member of the Museikai for more than a dozen years afterward, he exhibited at the Bunten Exhibitions and Teiten Exhibitions. He received the 3rd prize with his work entitled “Turkey” at the 8th Bunten Exhibition in 1914. This picture, “Morning Dew” was the one that he exhibited at the 9th Bunten Exhibition and received the meritorious mention, also purchased by the Ministry of the Imperial Household. In addition, he formed Kinreisha (an art association in the Taisho era) together with Yūki Somei, Kabragi Kiyokata, Matsuoka Eikyū, Kikkawa Reika, and others in 1916. He served as a judge for the Teiten Exhibition in 1926 as well and exhibited “Araiso (Rugged shore)”. Although he had not exhibited at the Teiten Exhibition before that, he did that frequently after that. In 1932, he became a professor at Tokyo School of Fine Arts as the successor to Kobori Tomoto and coached younger generations. Then, he was informed of the second elder brother’s death in 1933, he passed away suddenly due to cerebral apoplexy while he was going back to his hometown. He was 57 years old at that time.

Araiso (Rugged shore) by Hirafuku Hyakusui
Araiso (Rugged shore) by Hirafuku Hyakusui

This picture, as mentioned above, was exhibited at the 9th Bunten Exhibition in 1915, and was purchased by the Ministry of Imperial Household as well as awarded the meritorious mention. Pampas grasses and weeds in autumn are depicted fully on the pair of six-folding screen White water droplets caused by the morning dew come on leaves of the pampas grasses and the moon that is still in the sky shines the afterglow. The tarashikomi technique was used to depict the weeds, which means he had already studied Rinpa school. This is one of his representative works in the middle-age period of his life.

 

Turkey

Turkey by Hirafuku Hyakusui
Turkey by Hirafuku Hyakusui

 

Tōri Gōsō (Chrysanthemums Hardily Flowered in a Cold East Fence)

Tōri Gōsō (Chrysanthemums Hardily Flowered in a Cold East Fence) by Hirafuku Hyakusui
Tōri Gōsō (Chrysanthemums Hardily Flowered in a Cold East Fence) by Hirafuku Hyakusui

This picture entitled “Turkey” could be one of the patterns of “Turkey” that was awarded the 3rd prize at the 8th Teiten Exhibition in 1914. Hyakusui drew several pictures of turkey other than these around that time. This picture should be one of them and it is thought that the picture was produced around 1919. The folding screen that was exhibited at the Bunten Exhibition depicts 6 turkeys on the right-wing and 3 turkeys on the left-wing stroked only with sumi ink on the pair of big six-folding screen. The expression that used the *tarashikomi technique Rinpa school developed only by the sumi ink to contrast the density in a skillful manner can be quite skillful. The small flowers were depicted in the front to maintain the spatial balance in order to arrange one turkey on the screen of the vertically long hanging scroll in this picture. The expressions of the turkey with the ink brushstroke may give us a look at the accuracy of Hyakusui’s painting technique.

“Tōri Gōsō (Chrysanthemums Hardily Flowered in a Cold East Fence)” seemed to be produced based on the poetic sentiment of Tao Yuanming. The flowered-chrysanthemums over the brushwood fence are drawn with the powerful brushstroke. The rough painting touch for the fence, the silhouettes of the dark ink on the chrysanthemum leaves are contrasted with the lines of the flowered-chrysanthemums with the symmetrical depiction. The flowered-chrysanthemums are felt brilliant strikingly.


  • Tarashikomi: A high-level technique of Japanese-style painting for attaining natural blur by making use of the difference in the specific gravity of pigments.

 

Pine and Crane

Pine and Crane by Hirafuku Hyakusui
Pine and Crane by Hirafuku Hyakusui

 

Baika Kanjaku (Plum Blossom and Winter Sparrow)

Baika Kanjaku (Plum Blossom and Winter Sparrow) by Hirafuku Hyakusui
Baika Kanjaku (Plum Blossom and Winter Sparrow) by Hirafuku Hyakusui

Hyakusui’s works retain two sides that are the Rinpa school style and the Nanga style. It does not mean the two sides are shown in one work but they are drawn in the respective works separately. Hyakusui learned the painting from his father who belonged to Shijō school initially and then, studied under Kwabata Gyokushō who also belonged to Shijō school after going up to Tokyo. Therefore, Hyakusui could be a painter who followed Shijō school in terms of the school attribution. However, the Shijō school styled paintings are very few in Hyakusui’s works and most of them can be said Rinpa school style or Nanga style. It is not just the succession of the school styles but the germ and development of the individuality as a modern painter. The typical painting style of Rinpa school is richly decorative and the one of Nanga is based on the strong psyche gender. These two sides are drawn as the double sides that the one painter used properly. The examples of the Rinpa school style are represented by “Turkey” (1914), “Morning Dew” (1915), and ” Araiso (Rugged shore)” (1926). On the other hand, the examples of Nanga style are done by “Futatsumatsu (Two pine trees side-by-side)” (1917), “Ikaruga no Atari (Scene around Ikaaruga)” (1920), “Karikusa (Weeded grass)” (1931), “Komatsuyama (Mt. Komatsuyama)” (1932). It can be said that he used the two painting styles that look completely different on the surface and visually properly per the painting objects. Looking at the aetas of the paintings, he did not place a disproportionate emphasis on the either side but used the both styles properly to draw those pictures. Consequently, the both styles were come to the fruition into the one screen and one work gradually. It has been seen since around 1930 and developed to “Kōgen (highland)” and “Komatsuyama (Mt. Komatsuyama)” that he completed the productions until he passed away after producing “Karikusa (Weeded grass)”. As seen in these works, I would like to think that the screens were composed by the painting technique and psyche of Nanga and the Rinpa school styled decoration was given by the coloration. In this way, it can be said that the two sides that Hyakusui retained were integrated from the respective works into one work to develop the unique world. The originality of Hyakusui must exist here. ” Pine and Crane ” is the drawing pattern to arrange an old pine tree and a crane on the right and left screen of the pair of hanging scrolls. It looks very powerful brushstroke touch. The depiction way of the pine trees, which may seem to be offhand, and the rough outlines of the cranes look somewhat different from whatever else Hyakusui produced. It should be realized in his painting style of Nanga.

“Baika Kanjaku (Plum Blossom and Winter Sparrow)” is a very simple work that draws only the vertically growing shaft of plum, thin branches with flowers, and a single sparrow perching on the bent branch. The rough brushstroke touch of the thick shaft and the delicate depiction of the thin branches are symmetrical, felt fresh, and express a refreshing screen. The composition that the vertically long screen is laid onto the left half is also interesting. It seems to be produced around 1919.