Shiko studied under the history painter Fuko Matsumoto. He ushered a new phase into the nihonga circles by founding a group called Kojikai with Yukihiko Yasuda and others and was active at the Bunten. He later became a member of the Saiko Inten. Shiko came up with one after another new expression by adopting the styles of artists such as van Gogh and Gauguin or Rimpa-style decorativeness and painting nanga-like works, which had a significant influence on younger artists such as Gyoshu Hayami.

Based on the idea of the four Taoist gods reigning over the four points of the compass, the dragon and the tiger frequently appeared as a traditional subject of paintings in China. Numerous examples can be found in Japan, too, and Shiko pairs a blue dragon with a white tiger. These scrolls are decorative in style, reflecting Shiko’s esteem for Sotatsu Tawaraya. The dynamic contours painted in sumi and gold pigment outline the subjects leisurely with composure. The dragon and tiger are adeptly trimmed in the vertical image and the characteristic head, limbs, and tail are captured full of wit and humor bearing in mind the blank space. Shiko said to his juniors, “I will destroy, so you do the constructing.” He avoided getting hooked on any existing style be it Western or Oriental and exhibited free and individualistic sensations to the full. Such characteristics are clearly demonstrated in these scrolls.

Dragon: 124.8×41.4cm
Tiger: 125.0×41.4cm


  • Title: Dragon and Tiger
  • Creator: IMAMURA Shiko
  • Creator Lifespan: 1880 - 1916
  • Date: 1913
  • Media (Japanese): 彩色、絹、軸双幅
  • Media: color on silk, a pair of hanging scrolls
  • Type: Japanese-style painting
  • External Link: http://www.pref.spec.ed.jp/momas/

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