Artist: Ishikawa Toraji (石川寅治)

Lifetime: 1875 - 1964

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Ishikawa Toraji 石川寅治 (1875-1964)

Born in Kochi on the southwestern part of the island of Shikoku facing the Pacific Ocean. From the age of 17 he studied with Koyama Shotaro (1857-1916) at Fudosha, Koyama's Western-style art school. Toraji entered his paintings in the exhibitions of the Meiji Bijutsukai (Meiji Fine Arts Society), and he was one of the founders of the Taiheiyo Gakai (Pacific Western-style Art Society Institute) c. 1901, a successor to the Meiji Fine Arts Society.

He traveled to the United States and Europe in the early 1900s, returning to Japan in 1904. He exhibited paintings at the Japanese government sponsored Bunten and Teiten, and at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915.

In 1943 he was inaugurated as the Head of Taiheiyo Bijutsu Gakko (Pacific Art School). In 1947 he joined the Shigenkai, a society to exhibit Western-style painting, as a founding member. In 1950 he became an adviser to Nitten (The Japan Fine Arts Exhibition.) He contributed significantly to art education at the Tokyo Koto Shihan Gakko (Tokyo Higher Normal School) and the Tokyo University of Education. He received the Imperial Award of the Japan Art Academy in 1953.

He is, perhaps, best known for his 1934-1935 woodblock series Ten Types of Female Nudes. In commenting on this series Merritt states "Ishikawa thought of himself as a yoga (Western-style) painter...but in this print [The Sound of a Bell] he abandoned himself with obvious pleasure to the flat pattern and decorative placement that were his birthright."

This information was taken directly from several sources, but mainly relying on information provided by the Lavenberg Collection.


"In the 1930s, when police confiscated the Ten Nudes series by Ishikawa Toraji... such "decadence" was seen as an implicit threat to the social order. Far from eliciting the censure of the authorities by exciting radically political or overtly sexual passions, most shin-hanga traffiked in the quiet evocation of a fantasy world where the strongest desire was to make tangible an image of the ideal woman emblematic of traditional Japan. This woman lived in fiction and art - a woman of dreams."

Quoted from: Shin-Hanga: New Prints in Modern Japan, p. 64.