A work which Kuroda Seiki, while residing in France, painted to submit to the Salon but which unfortunately was not selected for exhibition. After returning to Japan, Kuroda became the first director of the newly established course of Western painting at the Tokyo Fine Arts School.
Having originally gone to France to study law, Kuroda Seiki eventually began to aspire to become a painter. This is one of the works he produced while living in Europe. Prior to this work, his Girl reading, which had won praise from his teacher Raphaël Collin, had been accepted for exhibition in the official French Salon, and Kuroda had enthusiastically begun this large work as the next he would submit to the Salon. Using as his model Maria Billault, whom he frequently painted around this time, Kuroda produced the work in the village of Grez, near Paris, where he often liked to stay. The painting has been organized overall around soft, bluish gray tones, and we cannot help but remark how the model wears a man’s jacket over her shoulders. Recent study has shown that the black of this jacket is in fact a mixture of reds and blues, in another demonstration of how the “purple school” characteristically avoided using black pigment if possible. Yamamoto Hosui, a pioneer of Western-style painting in Japan, once said, “If only Kuroda would come back to Japan, our Western-style painting will be revolutionized.” As Hosui predicted, Kuroda after returning to Japan became the first director of the newly established course of Western painintg at the Tokyo Fine Arts School and initiated a new phase in Western-style painting in the latter half of the Meiji era through such projects as the establishment of the Hakubakai (White Horse Society). (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)