Showing posts with label Japanese painting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japanese painting. Show all posts

Anatomical illustrations from Edo-period Japan

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Here is a selection of old anatomical illustrations that provide a unique perspective on the evolution of medical knowledge in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868).

 Pregnancy illustrations, circa 1860

These pregnancy illustrations are from a copy of Ishinhō, the oldest existing medical book in Japan. Originally written by Yasuyori Tanba in 982 A.D., the 30-volume work describes a variety of diseases and their treatment. Much of the knowledge presented in the book originated from China. The illustrations shown here are from a copy of the book that dates to about 1860.


Trepanning instruments, circa 1790 [+]
These illustrations are from a book on European medicine introduced to Japan via the Dutch trading post at Nagasaki. Pictured here are various trepanning tools used to bore holes in the skull as a form of medical treatment.

Trepanning instruments, circa 1790 [+]
The book was written by Kōgyū Yoshio, a top official interpreter of Dutch who became a noted medical practitioner and made significant contributions to the development of Western medicine in Japan.
 Tōmon Yamawaki, son of Tōyō Yamawaki, followed in his father's footsteps and performed three human dissections.

Female dissection, 1774
He conducted his first one in 1771 on the body of a 34-year-old female executed criminal. The document, entitled Gyokusai Zōzu, was published in 1774.

Japan's fifth human dissection -- and the first to examine the human brain -- was documented in a 1772 book by Shinnin Kawaguchi, entitled Kaishihen (Dissection Notes). The dissection was performed in 1770 on two cadavers and a head received from an execution ground in Kyōto.

Katsushika Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai was a brilliant artist, ukiyo-e painter and print maker, best known for his wood block print series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, which contain the prints The Great Wave and Fuji in Clear Weather. These prints are famous both in Japan and overseas, and have left a lasting image in the worldwide art world. Hokusai’s artistic influence has stretched to have affected the Art Nouveau style in Europe, including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Hermann Obrist, all of whom have themes similar to Hokusai’s. 
  • Hokusai began painting at the age of six, and by 18 he had been accepted into the Katsukawa Shunsho school, which honed his skills as a ukiyo-e artist, in which he specialized in wood-block prints and painting. After Shunsho’s death, Hokusai was expelled from the school by a rival, a humiliating experience which he later credited to his created development and artistic growth. This expulsion helped him break from the traditional ukiyo-e style of painting portraits of courtesans and actors, and begin painting landscapes and images of daily life. This change of subject was a breakthrough in both the ukiyo-e style as well as his career. He eventually broke from all other schools of painting and began teaching other students, over fifty in his lifetime.
  • Hokusai was a master of self-promotion. In 1804 he created a 600 foot painting of a Buddhist priest with a bucket of paint and a broom as a paint brush. There is also a story of how he won a painting competition in the court of the Shogun with a blue curve, a chicken with feet dipped in red paint, and in inventive and artistic explanation. At the age of 88, on his deathbed, it is said that he exclaimed that he needed only five more years of life, in order to become a real painter.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi

The artist who was to be known to history as Utagawa Kuniyoshi was born in Edo (present-dayTokyo) in 1797.  He was the son of a silk dyer named Yanagiya Kichiemon and was given the name Yoshisaburô at birth.  At the age of 14, Yoshisaburô joined the Utagawa School of ukiyo-eartists, then headed by Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769 - 1825).  Toyokuni I gave Yoshisaburô the name Utagawa Kuniyoshi; “Kuniyoshi” being a combination of the names “Toyokuni” and “Yoshisaburô”.

  •    In 1814, Kuniyoshi ended his apprenticeship and set out as an independent artist.  He initially produced actor prints in the style of his teacher, which gained him little recognition.  Kuniyoshi achieved a commercial and artistic breakthrough in 1827 with the first six designs of the series, The 108 Heroes of the Suikoden.  The series was bases upon a 14th century Chinese novel about the adventures of a band of 108 honorable bandits and rebels.

  •    Like his teacher, Kuniyoshi had many students including Yoshitoshi, Yoshi’iku, Yoshikazu, Yoshitsuya, Yoshiyuki, Yoshifuji, Yoshifusa, Yoshiharu, Yoshikage, Yoshikata, Yoshikatsu, Yoshimori, Yoshimune, Yoshinao*, Yoshinobu*, Yoshitoyo*, Yoshitsuna, Kyôsai (briefly) and his own daughters, Yoshitora and Yoshitori.  Kuniyoshi had a special fondness for cats, which overran his studio and are portrayed in many of his prints.
   Although Kuniyoshi is now universally known as Utagawa Kuniyoshi, he also used the names Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi, Chô-ô-rô Kuniyoshi, Igusa Kuniyoshi, Ichi Kuniyoshi and Saihôsa Kuniyoshi. He died from complications of a stroke on April 14, 1861.