The Bulletin of the Mie Prefectural Art Museum, no,4, March 2005
Reading a diary of Ryusei Kishida
Ryusei Kishida (1891-1929), a Japanese modern painter, kept a diary for about twenty-two years from 1st February 1907 to 2nd February 1929. It became a perfect document from which we can know how he was getting on in daily life and to what extent he made progress in the production of his works.
Above all, the diary for about five years and six months from the first day of 1920 to 9th July 1925 is valuable for us. There are two reasons for this. One is that Ryusei wrote it every day during that period. The other is that it conveys in detail how he, fascinated by Oriental antique art objects, was excited and absorbed in collecting flower-and-bird paintings of the Sung and the Yuan dynasty. Ryusei's interest in Western arts began with French Impressionism and went back to the German painter, Albrecht Durer (1471-1528). While he was deeply influenced by Durer, he discovered a new standard of beauty in Japanese and Chinese antique art objects. That seems to be coincidence. Ryusei began to collect old paintings. Although he did it only in 1923, his enthusiasm about them reached a peak just before the Great Kanto Earthquake in September of 1923. After that, he moved to Kyoto. At the same time his target for collecting switched from Chinese flower-bird paintings to early hand painting ukiyo-e. His diary fully explains the circumstances surrounding this. It was not uykiyo-e prints but early hand painting ukiyo-e which he collected. That is the point. Eventually, he published a book titled "Early Hand Painting Ukiyo-e". He stopped continuing his diary prior to its publication.