Artist: Kohno Michisei (1895-1950)
Sitter: Kohno Michisei (1895-1950)
Historical period(s)
Taisho era, 1917
oil on canvas
H x W (image): 91.2 x 65.3 cm (35 7/8 x 25 11/16 in)
Japan, Tokyo
Credit Line
Gift of Shuntatsu Kohno and the Kohno family in memory of their father
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Oil painting

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

Kohno Michisei, seen here at twenty-two, presents himself in a pose modeled on Western Renaissance master Albrecht Durer's (1471-1528) self-portrait produced in 1500.

Between 1914 and 1924 a remarkable quantity of high-quality portraiture was produced by Japanese artists who blended Western and East Asian painting traditions. While some of these painters had first-hand knowledge of Western painting, most, like Michisei, culled their images from books and magazines. The young artist was raised in an environment filled with powerful iconic images. His father was a portrait photographer, an artist in both Japanese and Western modes, and an active member of the Russian Orthodox Church. These influences are readily apparent in this self-portrait. Michisei's perceptive understanding of classic Western images was based on constant perusal of his father's extensive library; a portrait's potential for psychological and spiritual impact was impressed on him through exposure to religious icons used in the Orthodox liturgy.

Published References
  • Kono Michisei: Taisho no kisai, shinhakken sakuhin o chushin ni. Exh. cat. Tokyo. p. 11.
  • Shajitsu Keifu II Taisho ki no saimitsu byosha [An Eye for Minute Details: Realistic Paintings in the Taisho Period]. Exh. cat. Tokyo. pp. 29, 97.
  • Bert Winther-Tamaki. Maximum Embodiment*: Yoga, the Western Painting of Japan, 1912-1955. Hawaii. p. 36, fig. 1.4.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 148-149.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 334-335.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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