attributed to Imao Keinen Bird and Flower Album

attributed to Imao Keinen, 1845-1923

Album of Watercolors related to 'Bird and Flower Album by Keinen'
(Keinen Kacho Gafu)

string-bound collection of 42 watercolors, of which three are oversized sheets folded in half, some may be hand-colored keyblock proofs, some with notations regarding the subjects; unsigned, ca. 1891

string-bound album 16 by 11 in., 40.6 by 28 cm

Based in Kyoto, Imao Keinen was one of the most famous and successful bird and flower painters in the Meiji Period-- at one point it was said that he was the wealthiest artist in Japan. In 1882 he began serving as a judge at national art exhibitions, and beginning in 1888 he taught painting at the Kyoto Art Academy where he developed a reputation for being very concerned about his students' progress. Keinen was also recognized for beautiful woodblock printed publications of his work, including the Keinen Kacho gafu (Bird and Flower Album by Keinen) which was published in four lavish volumes by Nishimura Sozaemon in 1892.

This assembled album of seems to be a compilation of studies related the Keinen Kacho gafu and may have been produced in Keinen's studio or atelier. The collected works include an interesting combination of watercolor drawings, hand-colored proofs and a few small sketches on the verso or outside the primary compositions. While some may have been from the brush of Keinen himself, it is just as likely that it represents the efforts of his students.

References:
C.H. Mitchell, The Illustrated Books of the Nanga, Maruyama, Shijo and other Related Schools of Japan, A Biobiliography, 1972, p. 93 (on Keinen) and pp. 354-355 (on Keinen Kacho gafu)
University of Michigan Library NE 1325 .I32 A25
Princeton University Library TJ6288.9/8768
(inv. no. C-1770)

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