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Farmwork

KURATA Teijiro1891

The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama

The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama

Teijiro was born as the second son of the scholar of Chinese classics, Yukoku Kurata. The artist Hakuyo Kurata is his younger brother. He learnt painting from Chu Asai, who was a distant relative, and painted nearby landscapes while working as a substitute teacher at Koshigaya Higher Elementary School. He came to Tokyo relying on Chu Asai and became a member of Meiji Bijutsukai in 1891, but died prematurely at the age of 23. The few drawings and watercolors he left demonstrate his ability in true-to-life portrayal.

You might have mistaken this for a black-and-white photograph. The people doing farmwork in the garden, the farming tools, the children on the veranda, and every corner of the house are depicted so accurately in Cont_ that you would mistake this picture for a photograph. The figure in the front is portrayed with a cubic effect as if he might jump out towards us. As a photograph similar to Teijiro’s drawing was found in an album Eiki Totori, who was a fellow pupil at Chu Asai’s, possessed, this drawing may have been based on the photograph. Teijiro is said to have studied painting surprisingly hard and copying a photograph was probably part of his training, but he seems to be challenging how far human portrayal can compete with science. Despite being expected to become a great artist, he fell ill and met with an untimely death. Asai, who appreciated his talent, is said to have held the lifeless corpse’s hands and cried in grief over Teijiro’s premature death. Following his elder brother’s last wishes, Teijiro’s younger brother, Hakuyo, became an artist.

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