The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

“Figure with Parasol, Protect against Snow” by Takahashi Hiroaki

Queensland Art Gallery - Joy of Museums - "Figure with Parasol, Protect against Snow" by Takahashi Hiroaki 2

“Figure with Parasol, Protect against Snow” by Takahashi Hiroaki depicts a woman in traditional Japanesse winter clothes with Parasol to protect her against the snow, making her way along a fence. Takahashi Hiroaki also known as Shōtei (高橋松亭) was a 20th-century Japanese woodblock artist in the ‘shin hanga’ art movement.

Takahashi Hiroaki was trained in Nihonga or “Japanese-style painting” which is painting made in accordance with traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques and materials. Takahashi’s work attempts to capture cultural and everyday life. He dedicated much of his time to paintings for exhibitions and illustrations for publications. His nostalgic “Old Japan” art is highly sought after by Western collectors.

In 1907, as a successful artist, he was recruited by Shōzaburō Watanabe to contribute to the ‘shin hanga’ or “new prints” art movement in Japan. Watanabe helped to fulfill the Western demand for Ukiyoe woodblock prints which were similar to the historical masters of that genre, including Hiroshige. In 1923 the Great Kanto earthquake and fire destroyed Watanabe’s facilities which included all the Shin Hanga woodblocks. Takahashi had to recreate the designs destroyed in the Great Kanto earthquake and he also continued to produce new woodblocks.

Hiroaki used a variety of names, signatures and seals during his lifetime. From 1907 until 1922 he used the name Shotei and after 1922 Hiroaki or Komei. Takahashi Hiroaki was visited his daughter in Hiroshima during the summer of 1945. At 8:15 in the morning of August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 bomber dropped the first atomic bomb in the history of mankind over Hiroshima and the great ‘shin hanga’ artists was never seen again.

Among the many masterpieces and historical objects in the Queensland Art Gallery, the following are some highlights:

Essential Facts:

  • Title:               Figure with Parasol, Protect against Snow (Secchu zakura)
  • Artist:              Takahashi Hiroaki or Takahashi Shōtei
  • Dates:               c. 1940
  • Materials:       Colour woodblock prints on paper
  • Origins:            Japan
  • Dimensions:   38 x 16.5cm
  • Museum:         Queensland Art Gallery

Artist Essential Facts:

  • Title:               Takahashi Hiroaki or Takahashi Shōtei
  • Birth:              1871 – Tokyo, Japan
  • Death:             1945 – Hiroshima, Japan
  • Nationality:    Japanese
  • Movement:     Shin Hanga

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“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” Japanese Proverb

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Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2)