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Shiba Kōkan


Andō Kichijirō, who is generally known as Shiba Kōkan or Kungaku, was a talented Japanese artist who managed to bring a significant number of elements from Western culture to his native land. Kichijirō is traditionally related by the researchers to the activists of the Tokugawa period as he was the first to introduce oil painting, a traditional element for the Western style of art, to Japanese artists.

First, Kōkan made a decision to study painting at Kanō school, one of the most notable schools of Japanese painting. Here, he learned various unique Chinese techniques and traditional themes and decided to start his career as a woodblock printer, following the instructions of the influential Chinese artists and activists. It is important to mention that this significant person studied so-called Dutch studies and was highly interested in astronomy.

Key Ideas in Painting

At the very beginning of his career, the painter tended to follow Harunobu’s style; nonetheless, in the long run, he started to work under the influence of Western realistic tendencies and apply more and more elements of shading technique and elements of perspective. By reading a number of Dutch materials, Kichijirō managed to study copperplate engraving and become a master of oil paintings. What is more, Shiba Kōkan became the first, who was educated enough to make copperplate print, in this launching the new page in the art history of China and Japan.

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As a result, the main types of drawings were made as oil paintings, in this way, witnessing a strong influence of popular Western techniques. Some of the artist’s works are presented with realistic elements that are thoroughly described in a literary work “Dissertation on Western Painting” written by Shiba Kōkan. As well as many of his competitors, the painter liked to depict hulls, different plants, and other natural beauties, creating outstanding innovative artwork.

Famous paintings made by Shiba Kōkan

The most popular artworks made by Shiba Kōkan is “Girls watching the Moon at Shinagawa,” and “Woman.” In addition, it is necessary to mention “View on Mimeguri” as it is the first copper print work by the Japanese painter that is beautifully colored. Another popular work is “A meeting of Japan, China, and the West”, by Shiba Kōkan, where the artist describes a meeting of three different people who symbolize three different countries. These people, as well as other ordinary individuals, sit around the table and discuss some current issues. The other popular works include a pair of scrolls that are created in the style of Sō Shiseki and a number of oil paintings. All these works are traditional to the Dutch school, and, in this way, show a great interest of the painter in its traditional elements. Some researchers define the paintings of the artist to be nothing but the unexpected wink as he provides a fresh look at the topics presented in the pictures. Thus, paintings by Shiba Kōkan set the tone for the whole new era in the history of art in China and Japan and lead it to a completely new era.

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Shiba Kōkan. (2018, Aug 09). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/artists/shiba-kokan-biography-55662/

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