Nishimura Shigenaga (1697-1756) and Japanese art

Nishimura Shigenaga (1697-1756) and Japanese art

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Nishimura Shigenaga (1697-1756) was born in modern-day Tokyo during the Edo Period. Hence, while longing to become an artist, he taught himself the intricacies of art when time permitted. 

Shigenaga ran a bookshop in the Kanda region of Tokyo before establishing his artistic credentials. The influence of Okumura Masanobu and Nishikawa Sukenobu blessed his art while he developed himself.

In the first art piece in this article, a poet is looking at the moon in the stillness of the night. One can imagine the poet in deep contemplation – similar to Shigenaga during his free time before becoming firmly established in the art scene of his day.

The British Museum reports, “Shigenaga was active in many fields: actor prints; landscape series such as ‘Eight Views of Kanazawa’ and ‘Eight Views of Lake Biwa’; classical themes; bird, flower and animal prints; historical prints; parody prints; perspective prints. However, he particularly excelled in prints of beautiful women, which have about them a warm amplitude.

Above are Mandarin Ducks by the edge of the river. One looks more assiduous – while the duck at the front seems happy with life. It is a delightful art piece by Shigenaga.

Shigenaga was blessed with a free artistic spirit. Hence, while some art is aimed at the economic angle, other is more experimental. Overall, a delightful artist who produced lovely art in the early to middle of the eighteenth century.

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