An undeniable sense of presence pervades the salmon hung by a straw rope, bathed in light from the upper right. This is a foremost masterpiece in which the artist has depicted a familiar subject through sharp observation and realistic rendering of texture.
Salmon is a widely known masterpiece of oil painting, which depicts a familiar subject with beautiful, lifelike realism. It entered the present collection in 1897 and was designated an Important Cultural Property in 1967. The work has been painted on Western-type paper, which has been colored brown, and, as a result of an earlier restoration, is now mounted. One of the major appeals of this painting is the beauty of its expression of texture. The artist, however, has not rendered everything in intricate detail but rather has depicted the salmon in a rhythmical manner, from its head to its tail, with appropriate procedures and methods. For example, the rope, head, and body of the fish are rather thickly painted, and their textures have been rendered by bringing out the viscosity of the paint and the brushstrokes. On the other hand, the background, the flesh of the cut surface, and the tail have been painted freely and loosely, by making use of the effect of the ground color of the paper and the color of the underpainting. In this way, Yuichi has guided the overall painting to a well-balanced, attractive harmony of color tones. The success of this realistic beauty, in which Yuichi captured forms accurately and used traditional Western chiaroscuro effectively in the appropriate places, is due to the influence of his teacher Fontanesi, as well as to Yuichi’s unwavering will to study Western-style painting — an endeavor that must still have been difficult at the time. (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)