Free exhibit of Yumeji Takehisa’s beautiful women offered in Tokyo

Courtesy of the Chiyoda Ward Office
Yumeji Takehisa’s “Shoshun Daiisshi”

Delve into the world of beautiful women as depicted by painter Yumeji Takehisa (1884-1934), in a free exhibition running through Feb. 28 at the Hibiya Library & Museum in Tokyo.

Yumeji was known for melding Western and Japanese ideas of romanticism during the Taisho era, which spanned 1912-26.

The exhibition includes Yumeji’s creaions that have recently been designated as cultural assets by Chiyoda Ward, as well as paintings selected from the ward’s collection.

Many of the bijinga pictures of beautiful women that Yumeji painted are characterized by a wide-eyed woman with a long face and melancholy look. He also designed magazine covers and items including patterned paper known as chiyogami and envelopes. The items he designed were said to have flown off the shelves.

It was his issues with women, however, that caused him problems and his fall in popularity. In the late 1960s, the founder of publishing company Ryuseikaku in the ward began collecting Yumeji’s works in order to reexamine his achievements. The publisher’s efforts created a renewed boom in interest in Yumeji.

The exhibition features 200 items from more than 1,200 works that Ryuseikaku donated to Chiyoda Ward, and 35 items owned by the ward, including hanging scrolls of Yumeji’s bijinga, including “Soshun Daiisshi” (First branches in early spring), and a picture book he drew that shows his revisions.

“Yumeji had great talent for capturing fleeting gestures and facial expressions,” Masayuki Yamada, curator of the ward’s cultural promotion division said. “I hope visitors will enjoy his lyrical and still colorful works.” The museum will be open every day except Feb. 20.