Koito Gentarō 小絲源太郎 (1887-1978)
Source: Biographical Dictionary of Japanese Art, Yutaka Tazawa, Kodansha International, Ltd. in collaboration with the International Society for Educational Information, Inc., 1981, p. 151; Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 73; A Dictionary of Japanese Artists: Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Prints, Lacquer, Laurance P. Roberts, Weatherhill, 1976, p. 87 and others as footnoted.
Koito is mainly known as a Western-style (yōga) painter, rather than a printmaker1. Born in Tokyo, he attended the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (Tokyo Bijutsu Gakkō), first graduating from the metal work department in 1911 and then returning for further study in the department of Western painting, studying under the yōga artist Fujishima Takeji (1867-1943), a proponent of Western Romanticism and impressionism. Due to illness, Koito ended his yōga studies before their completion.
While still attending the School of Fine Arts, he began exhibiting his paintings at the Ministry of Education exhibition (Bunten), showing regularly until 1918, when he took a six year hiatus from Bunten exhibiting and focused on sketching and painting from life.
In 1915 his painting A Cloudy Day won Honorable Mention at the Panama Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco.2 By the mid-1920s Koito had built a considerable reputation as a yōga painter and he again began regularly showing his work in government-sponsored exhibitions, for which he would also serve as a judge.
He participated in a number of artist societies promoting Western-style painting including both government-sponsored groups such as the Saikō Nihon Bijutsuin (Reorganized Japan Fine Art Academy) and independent societies such as Hakuba-kai (White Horse Society) and Kōfūkai. He was made an honorary life member of the Nihon Geijutsu-in (Japan Art Academy) in 1959 and in 1965 he received the Order of Cultural Merit. He became an honorary professor at the Kanazawa University of Arts and a counselor for the National Museum of Modern Art.
His early oil painting is described as showing "great attention to realistic detail"3 and he is known for combining "a bold and lively color sense with clearly articulated brushwork to capture a natural feeling of season."4
The Japan Encyclopedia entry for the artist notes that he was also a haiku poet.5