Japan art and Natori Shunsen: Tragedy of life
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The Japanese woodblock printer, Natori Shunsen (1886-1960), was an esteemed artist of kabuki actor portraits. His love of kabuki portraits took off when he was an illustrator at Asahi Shimbun.
Shortly after his birth, his family left Yamanashi Prefecture and relocated to Tokyo. At the age of eleven, he began to study under Kubota Beisen. Hence, he was taught the beauty of Nihonga art. This was followed by furthering his artistic skills a the Tokyo School of Fine Arts.
The British Museum reports, “Contemporaries at his first school included the future ‘Nihonga’-style artists Kawabata Ryushi (1885-1966), Okamoto Ippei (1886-1948) and Okumura Dogyu (1889-1989).”
The Minami Alps Art Museum says, “As opposed to Yamato Koka who was another Ukiyo-e artist of the time, famous for the entertaining and bright expressions depicted in his Yakusha-e, Natori’s pieces had a more orthodox and realistic touch which carried a sort of unique depth to each person who viewed his works.”
Sadly, his life took a turn for the worse in the last few years of his life. This concerns Natori and his wife being heartbroken after the death of their daughter, who died from pneumonia when aged 22.
In time, her death engulfed them too much. Hence, full of sorrow and pain, they jointly committed suicide by the grave of their cherished daughter. One can only imagine how they felt when they took poison by her grave.
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