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“Figure with Snow Falling” by Takahashi Hiroaki

Queensland Art Gallery - Joy of Museums -

“Figure with Snow Falling” by Takahashi Hiroaki

“Figure with Snow Falling” by Takahashi Hiroaki depicts a man in traditional Japanese winter clothes making his way in falling snow trudging by trees and hills covered in snow towards the traditional Japanese buildings in the background. Takahashi Hiroaki also was 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 fulfil 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 visiting 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 civilisation over Hiroshima and the great ‘shin hanga’ artist was never seen again.

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

Figure with Snow Falling

  • Title:             Figure with Snow Falling (Sangaku no bosetsu)
  • 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

Takahashi Hiroaki

  • 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)