Scenes of the 1923 Earthquake

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Artist: Nishimura Goun 西村五雲 (1877-1938)
Historical period(s)
Taisho era, 1925
Handscroll; color on paper
H x W (overall): 32.8 x 560.9 cm (12 15/16 x 220 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


earthquake, Japan, Taisho era (1912 - 1926)
Provenance research underway.

Like his mentor, Takeuchi Seiho (1864-1942), Goun was a Kyoto painter known for his soft, lyrical renderings of birds, fish, flowers, and animals.  Here he adopts the traditional horizontal format of episodes linked by text to report the devastation of Tokyo during the great Kanto earthquake (September 1, 1923).  In the first sequences, Goun dramtically illustrates the destructive fires that followed the tremors.  Although Goun was a Kyoto artist, the image seems to be based on actual observation.  The resulting painting is an odd union of harsh subject and gentle style.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
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