The Art of Japanese Screens and Furnishings

Ref. 5636

A six-fold paper screen painted in ink on a hakura (gold under silk) ground with a gnarled pine tree.

Signed: Keigetsu san nin
Seal: unreadable

Inscription: Refers to autumn, however it is illegible.

Japan Showa period 20th century

Matsubayashi Keigetsu (1876 – 1963). Keigetsu was born in Nakawatashi, Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture in Meiji 9 (1876). Original surname: Ito, given name: Atsushi, he was given the name Matsubayashi when he married the daughter of the Matsubayashi samurai family, the Lady Setsujo. Go or artist name: Keigetsu. At the age of 18 he went to Tokyo to study painting under Noguchi Yukoku (1827 – 1898). He exhibited at the Nihon Bijutsu Kyokai (Japan Art Association) and went on to win prizes at several Official Government Bunten exhibitions. He was appointed judge for the first Official Teiten exhibition and a member judge for the Shotoku Taishi Memorial Exhibition of Taisho 15 (1926). In Showa 7 (1932) he became a member of the Teikoku Bijitsu-in (Imperial Art Academy) and was appointed Teishitsu Gigei-in (Imperial Craftsman appointed to the Imperial Household) in Showa 19 (1944). Throughout his career he played a leading role in the Nanga School of painters and received the medal of Bunka Kunsho (Cultural Merits). In later life he established the Nihon Nanga-in (Academy of the Southern School of Painting) in Showa 35 (1960). He died at the age of 87 in Showa 38 (1963)

In Showa 7 (1932) it is recorded that Keigetsu showed a pair of six-fold screens painted with pine and bamboo and in his own words the paintings of pine and bamboo “demonstrate the essence of Nanga painting and how it should be, that is to say that the goal of Nanga painting is to capture the essence of the beauty and ineffable ideal perfection of the subjects, here lies the value of Nanga painting” The purity and vividness of his artistic sensitivity is acutely felt in his work, it surpasses conventions of technical painterly rendition and one can definitely see lofty spirituality expressed by Keigetsu which never seems dated in the eyes of the viewers. (Comments by Mr Osuga Kiyoshi, Curator of the Art Archives at the Kyoto City University of Arts.