The interior of a train’s third-class car has been depicted with a realistic rendering and a complex organization of light. We can feel the fond gaze with which the artist viewed the customs and manners of these common people who inhabited the fourth decade of the Meiji era.
The sky outside the window is growing light, telling of the long train ride that has continued beyond the stillness of the night. Then, too, we can sense it as well from the atmosphere inside the car, which still lies heavy with boredom and fatigue. While passengers from every facet of life–old and young, men and women–each pass the time in his or her own way, light from the reddish brown lamp, the glow from outside the window, and the momentary flash that illuminates the hands of the old man lighting a pipe mingle in complex ways and intertwine around the figures. After graduating from the course of Western painting at the Tokyo Fine Arts School, Akamatsu Rinsaku was working as a junior high school teacher in Mie Prefecture when he showed this work in the sixth Hakubakai (White Horse Society) exhibition of 1901 and won the Hakubakai Award. He turned his sharp artist’s eyes to this scene of a third-class car during the fourth decade of the Meiji era, i.e., around the turn of the century, and applying the methods of expressing light he had learned from Kuroda Seiki, he succeeded in capturing magnificently the complex patterns of light and dark. In addition, we can see Akamatsu’s own innovations in the organization of the figures in the picture, for example, in how he has distinguished the distance of each figure from the viewer and achieved balance within the group by introducing a man seen only in shadow. After working as a teacher and as an illustrator for a newspaper, he founded the Akamatsu Institute of Western-style Painting in the Umeda area of Osaka in 1910. Sending forth into the world such students as Saeki Yuzo, he contributed to the development of Western-style painting in the Kansai region. (Writer : Naomi Sakonju Source : Selected Masterpieces from The University Art Museum, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music: Grand Opening Exhibition, The University Art Museum, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, 1999)