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Asai Chu, a well-known landscape painter from the Meiji period and one of the founding members of Meiji Bijutsukai, is one of Japan’s greatest oil painters. Asai Chu was born into a Samurai family and received rigorous training in Japanese bird-and-flower painting, popularly known as ‘kachoga’ in the ‘Nanga’ style, but switched to oil painting when he was 19 years old. He enrolled in the Shogido, a private Western-style painting school, and spent most of his life perfecting his skills. His vacation to Europe had a big impact on him, and when he returned, he replaced his dark and heavy palette with a lighter one. He was a well-rounded artisan who was a great painter as well as a professor at numerous institutes. When it comes to forming and introducing numerous interest groups, Asai was also a very active participant. Asai was a good mentor and implanted numerous approaches in his students who went on to become great painters, as he dabbled in many fields of art. To gain a better understanding of Asai Chu’s life, read his biography.

Childhood And Early Years Of Asai Chu

Asai Chu was born in Sakura, Kanto, to a family of ex-samurai. His father worked for the Sakura clan as a retainer. The Chu went to Sakura High School, where his father was the principal. In 1873, he moved to Tokyo to study English, but he grew interested in the arts and became a student of Shinkuro Kunisawa. He enrolled in the school’s western oil painting classes.

In 1876, Asai enrolled in Kobu Bijutsu Gakko (the Technical Fine Arts School) and studied under Antonio Fontanesi, the Italian foreign minister. In the 1870s, the Meiji administration employed Antonio Fontanesi to bring western oil painting to Japan.

The Career of Asai

In 1889, Asai founded the Meiji Art Society or Meiji Bijutsukai. It was the country’s first group of Western-style painters. The Chu joined the Tokyo School of Fine Arts as a professor in 1898 and stayed there until his journey to France. The Chu spent two years honing his painting skills there.

The Japanese government sent him to the Universal Exposition, where his work and that of other Japanese painters were displayed. He was enthralled by the Japanese Art Nouveau style and brought it back to his homeland. This type of work had grown fairly popular on postcards and other graphic arts when he returned to Japan in 1902.

On his return from France, Asai’s murky palette was replaced with a lighter one. During his time in Paris, he met Nakazawa Iwata, a man who aspired to establish a Kyoto college of technology.

As a result, upon his return to Japan in 1902, Asai was appointed as a professor at the Kyoto School of Arts and Crafts. In the same year, he established the Kansai Arts Institute.

Asai’s responsibilities at the Kyoto School of Arts and Crafts were not limited to teaching. With the help of young ceramic artists and lacquerware craftspeople, he founded the Yutoen organization. He also founded the Kyoshitsuen group, where artists began to experiment with new styles.

The Shogoin Western Art Research Center and Kansai Bijyutsuin were founded by Kansai artists who looked up to Asai as a great western painter.

They aspired to create work and educate other artists about Western paintings while they were there. Umehara Ryuzaburo, Yasui Sotaro, and Suda Kunitaro were three well-known painters who studied under Asai at the Kansai Bijyutsuin.

In the final year of his life, 1907, Asai served as a judge for the first national art exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education.

He also founded the Kyundo, where he created ceramics based on his own designs.

Personal Experiences

In October of 1893, Asai Chu married Yasuko, the younger sister of Naoshi Tatsumi, a former Sakura clansman.

Legacy And Death

On December 16, 1907, Asai died at the age of 52. Many of Asai’s works are regarded as significant, and the Japanese “Agency For Cultural Affairs” classifies them as “Important Cultural Properties.”

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