Mt. Ogura, 1909, Color on Silk, a Pair of 6 Panels Folding Screens, Yokohama Museum of Art
Shimomura Kanzan (1873-1930) was born into a family of hereditary Noh players, who served the Kishu Tokugawa family. He studied under Kano Hogai and Hashimoto Gaho from the time he was a child, and acquired the painting techniques of the Kano school. In 1889, he became a student in the inaugural class of the Tokyo Fine Arts School (the present Tokyo University of the Arts), and studied under president Okakura Tenshin, along with Yokoyama Taikan and Hishida Shunso. Following graduation, Shimomura was appointed as an assistant professor at the school. But he resigned when Okakura was ousted from the school in an administrative struggle. He then became a founding member of the Japan Art Institute. He later became one of its leading painters, and is known to have committed himself to creating new styles. In 1913, upon an invitation by businessman Hara Sankei, Shimomura settled in a house in Honmoku, Yokohama, which became his final dwelling place.
Basing his paintings on the established style of the Kano school, he also diligently studied the flowing lines and colors of Yamato-e painting, while also incorporating elements of Western painting that he acquired while studying in England and other European countries. This allowed him to establish a uniquely refined and mellow style of painting. This exhibition, commemorating the 140th anniversary of his birth, fully introduces his paintings through showing approximately 150 works and documents (partly replaced during the show). This includes his chefs-d’oeuvre, ranging from the period when he studied Kano-style painting during his teens to the period of reviving the Japan Art Institute, during which he demonstrated his mature artistry.