Japan art and Meiji artist Toshikata Mizuno

Japan art and Meiji artist Toshikata Mizuno

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Toshikata Mizuno (1866-1908) was a notable artist of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). He bridged the old world of the Edo Period and the cultural traits that remained and fused it with fresh ideas of the Meiji Period. Therefore, long after Toshikata had parted from this world, he continued to influence Taisho and early Showa artists – even if this materialized outside the world of ukiyo-e.

In this article, the focus is on Toshikata’s bijin-ga art. This concerns beautiful ladies through the medium of art. However, his popular military-related art themes highlighted the changing nature of Japan during the Meiji Period. Hence, the mainly isolated period of the Edo Period now witnessed several military wars with regional nations. Therefore, the mindset had changed dramatically since the demise of the Edo Period.

The Ota Memorial Museum of art says, “He apprenticed under Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, and succeeding his master’s style of painting, worked on historical paintings, bijin-ga (portraits of beautiful women), newspaper illustrations, and war pictures depicting the Sino-Japanese war. Furthermore, his frontispiece drawings for novels and for literary magazines such as the “Bungei Club” gained much popularity.”

The MET Museum says (after Toshikata studied art under Yoshitoshi) he “…then studied Maruyama-Shijo-style painting under Watanabe Shōtei. Toshikata’s sentimental style of beauty was followed by one of his students, Kaburagi Kiyokata.”

Despite many distinguished Meiji ukiyo-e artists, the last few decades of the nineteenth century would witness a sharp decline of this art form in Japan. Suddenly, new artistic ideas emanating from Europe were in vogue. However, the war angle brought a brief respite before new internal and external art forms developed fully in Japan. Therefore, like all Meiji ukiyo-e artists, Toshikata was swimming against the tide of artistic change.

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