Who is Seki Kuroda?
Kuroda was born on August 9, 1866, in Takamibaba, Satsuma Domain, present-day Kagoshima Prefecture.
He was a samurai son of the Shimazu family, but after his birth he was adopted by his uncle and moved to a mansion in Tokyo. His uncle Kiyotsuna Kuroda held an important position in the shogunate. When Kuroda was young, he was made Viscount. At the age of 18, Kuroda went to Paris to study law, but in 1886 he met painters Hosui Yamamoto, Shozo Fuji and art dealer Tadamasa Hayashi, who persuaded him to devote himself to painting, which had been his hobby until then. was done. time. .
Kuroda spent ten years in France learning to paint in the Western academic style before returning to Japan in 1893.
He brought with him a painting called ‘Morning Toilette’, the first nude painting ever published in Japan. Unfortunately it was destroyed in the Second World War.
Kuroda started a Western-style painting school called Tenshin Dojo and founded Sokoko, an outdoor painting practice.
In 1986, he founded the Hakuba-kai – also known as the White Horse Society – a group of Japanese practitioners of yoga and painting. He was also invited to teach the Western Painting Department at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts.
Kuroda’s Western painting style was quite shocking to Japanese audiences but also became very popular, particularly among younger people, who were keen to be taught by him.
He refined his style and teaching over the years, mixing in more Japanese sensibilities.
In 1910 he was appointed a court painter at the Imperial Court. He was also president of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and was appointed Viscount in 1917 after his uncle’s death.
Then, in 1920, Kuroda was elected to join a new aristocratic social class from the Meiji era, the Japanese peer group, or kizukuen.
He spent his final years more in politics until his death on July 15, 1924 at the age of 57.