Fujishima Takeji and Okada Saburosuke are considered to be two of Japan’s greatest early 20th century exponents of youga or Western painting.
Fujishima and Okada were contemporaries and rivals who followed similar paths. They both studied Western Painting in the private school of Soyama Sachihiko and spent time working in Europe. In 1912, they joined together to found the Hongo Institute of Painting, where he trained a large number of painters.
The English Wikipedia entry on Fujishima sums up his lie and work, thus:
Fujishima was born to an ex-samurai class household in Kagoshima, Satsuma Domain in southern Kyūshū, Japan, where his father had been a retainer of the Shimazu clan daimyō. After studying art at Kagoshima Middle School he left home in 1884 to pursue his studies in Tokyo, first with Kawabata Gyokusho, a Shijō school nihonga artist. However, Fujishima was attracted to the new western-style oil painting techniques, and switched to yōga-style painting, which he learned under Yamamoto Hosui and Soyama Yukihiro. His graduation piece, “Cruelty” was exhibited at the 3rd Meiji Art Association Exhibition in 1891, where it was viewed by noted novelist and art critic Mori Ogai.
Fujishima moved to Tsu in Mie Prefecture in 1893, where he was an assistant teacher at the Mie Prefectural Elementary School, but soon returned to Tokyo in 1896 under the sponsorship of Kuroda Seiki to become an assistant professor at the Tokyo Art School’s Western Painting Department. He also joined Kuroda’s art coterie, the Hakubakai (White Horse Society).
Travelling to France in 1905, Fujishima studied the techniques of historical painting under Fernand Cormon at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and portraiture under Carolus-Duran at the French Academy in Rome in Italy. He returned to Japan in 1910 and became a professor at the Tokyo Art School and a member of the Imperial Art Academy. In 1937, he was one of the first recipients of the newly created Order of Culture of the Japanese government.
Fujishima died in 1943; his grave is at the Aoyama Cemetery, in Tokyo.
A biography of Okada can be found here.
This exhibition is showing at Hiroshima Museum of Art until December 11, 2011. Click here for more details.