A long unseen oil painting by Seiki Kuroda (1866-1924), a masterly artist who laid the foundations for the nation's modern Western-style painting, was sold at auction in Tokyo on Saturday for ¥5.8 million (S$63,983) to an art collector from Kagoshima.
The painting, titled "Aki no Kiyo-mizudera" (Kiyomizu Temple in autumn), is attracting a good deal of attention from researchers. A pictorial representation of the painting was included in a collection of Kuroda works published in 1925. This means the work of art has seen the light of day for the first time in 90 years.
The work is believed to have been painted in Kyoto in the mid-1890s, after Kuroda returned to Japan in 1893 following nine years of study in Paris. Mountains and fields tinted with red and yellow are vividly portrayed on a canvas that measures 45 centimeters by 32.2 centimeters. The painting does not focus on the noted platform of Kiyo-mizudera temple, but expresses Kuroda's interest in nature and the changing seasons through vivid colors.
With many art dealers and collectors in attendance, the painting was sold at Shinwa Art Auction at a much higher price than the ¥2.5 million expected bid price.
In the 1925 Kuroda collection, a pictorial photo of the painting was included and Akira Sano, a sculptor who was close to Kuroda, was specified as its owner.
Fukuoka University Prof. Kenzo Ueno, researcher of the art group Hakuba-kai, that was established by Kuroda and others in 1896 and of which Sano was also a member, said that the painting is Kuroda's masterpiece, completed while he was still young.
"It will become a precious record in modern art history in determining what kind of man Kuroda was once its historical background becomes clear," he said.Speech