Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
Autumn 2007, vol 5 no 3


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Saeki Shunko


Painting on paper in mineral pigments and sumi ink, mounted as a framed panel, depicting a young woman dressed in kimono with curled permed hair in a Western style coffee shop. Signed on the lower right by the artist: Shunko, and sealed (Saeki Shunko, the go or art name of Saeki Toshio, 1909 - 1942). Showa 15 or 1940.

Titled: Angela, this painting was first exhibited at the 1st Seikinkai exhibition in 1940, when it was acquired directly from the artist by the art patron and collector Hosokawa Rikizo. Along with the rest of his collection it entered the Meguro Gajoen Museum Collection after the War, from which it was acquired by Kagedo in 2003. It is illustrated in Kindai no Bijinga: Meguro Gajoen Korekushon, page 352, plate 473.

For biographical details and another painting by Saeki Shunko, c.f. number 14 in this catalogue.

Saeki Shunko's portrait of Angela seems charmingly off balance. The figure stands posed on the right margin of the painting, balanced by the flaring dark blue chair and alcove above the fireplace on the left. The chair back mimics the line of the oddly flaring wall of the alcove, the collar of Angela's under kimono and the angular treatment of her hands. She stands still and calm; yet her kimono, haori and hair are busy with pattern and movement. In amusing contrast to a Japanese tokonoma, Saeki fills the alcove with a symmetrical arrangement of lamps and ceramics, their surfaces as busy as Angela's clothing. The painting seems a bemused meditation on modernity in contemporary Japan.

Angela and her sister were subjects that Saeki Shunko painted again and again. For other portraits of these fashionable beauties, c.f. Kindai no Bijinga: Meguro Gajoen Korekushon, plate 382, 257, and 258.

92 5/8" high x 61 5/16" wide, inclusive of mounting.
82 9/16" high x 51 7/16" wide, painting dimension.


Copyright 2007: Simply Haiku