To celebrate the 300th exhibition held in the museum since the opening of 1973, this exhibition focuses on Yoshikawa Kanpō (1894-1979), a painter, a collector, and the initial donor, whose donation triggered the foundation of Nara Prefectural Museum.
Kanpō is known for collecting some 30,000 pieces of paintings, textiles, and other artistic handicrafts; his famous collection is now owned by several public organizations including Kyoto Prefecture (under the management of The Museum of Kyoto) and Fukuoka City Museum, and widely open to the public. As a successful painter himself, who created many outstanding works, and a scholar of manners and customs of Japan, Kanpō contributed magnificently to promote Japanese history and culture. This exhibition also commemorates the 125th anniversary of his birth and the 40th of his death, and introduces the footsteps and achievements of Kanpō.
Yoshikawa Kanpō was born as Yoshikawa Kenjirō in 1894. He aspired to be a painter and studied nihonga (traditional Japanese painting) at the Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting (present-day Kyoto City University of Arts). While still being a student, he was accepted to Bunten (art exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education) and involved in the production of traditional woodblock prints. Gradually his interest shifted toward studying the history of manners and customs and collecting artworks, and he started devoting time to historical background research for movies, theatrical plays and festivals, as well as presentations of his collection in public. One of the examples of his activities was establishing Kojitsu Kenkyūkai, a study group for the usages and practices of the court or military household, which had influenced on the movement of the Japanese painting at that time; it had hosted sketching gatherings with the models put in its collection and invited the painters who wanted to study the manners of the time period.
In this exhibition, the relationship between Kanpō and Japanese painting, which have been rather neglected so far, is its focus, with the display of works of Kanpō and the painters who had interacted with him. Those well-known masterpieces from his collection, such as the portrait of a lady considered as Lady Yodo, are also on view. Hopefully this would be an opportunity to rediscover the attraction of Japanese culture that Kanpō had tried to preserve and pass on with a deep understanding and longing, by creating as a painter, selecting as a collector, and investigating as a scholar.