Morita Kakō 森田華香 (active c. 1904-1930)
Morita designed prints for at least two different publishers during his career - Akiyama Buemon (Kokkeidō), who published a number of the artist's landscape prints, and Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya), who published the artist's twenty-or-so kachō-e and his four known Russo-Japanese War prints.
A sampling of prints published by Akiyama Buemon (Kokkeidō), c. 1910-1930
A sampling of prints attributed to Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya), c. 1910-1930
Prints published by Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya), 1904
A painting of Morita's titled Late Autumn was awarded honors at the 4th exhibition of Jitsu-getsu Association 日月会 (The Sun and Moon Association) and reproduced in the November 20, 1904 issue of the art magazine Bijutsu Gaho.1 He also contributed one or more illustrations to the popular magazine Fuzoku Gaho, the first graphic magazine produced in Japan. Records of The American Art Association, which offered four of Morita's ink on silk paintings in their 1901 New York auction, list his works under "Paintings from the Pupils of Professor Okakuya's (sic) [Okakura Tenshin 岡倉 天心 (1863-1913)] Art Institute, Tōkyō" providing the only information I've been able to discover on Morita's training as an artist.2
Confused with Tsuji Kakō
Is Morita Kakō the Scientific Illustrator Morita Kako (aka K.M.)?
The University of Stuttgart's Database of Scientific Illustrators 1450-1950 contains the following listing:3
Could this botanical illustrator be the same Morita Kakō who created beautiful kachō-e as shown above?
In 1904, Kako Morita, a graduate of the University of Tokyo, was hired by Henry Nachtrieb, professor of Animal Biology and State Zoologist, and Thomas Sadler Roberts, then a contributor to ornithological studies for the Survey, to paint fish and birds to be used to illustrate reports on zoology and ornithology. Only a few traces of Morita’s connection to the University have yet been found: a line of credit as the artist of the illustration of an Evening Grosbeak included in T.S. Roberts’s Occasional Paper #1, [shown above] a brief article in the October 3, 1904 edition of the Minnesota Alumni Weekly, and a mention by Walter Breckenridge in an article in a publication of the Minnesota Ornithological Union. As evidenced by the presence of these images of beans and berries, Morita produced illustrations of botanical specimens for the Department of Botany as well.
click on image to enlarge
The scientific illustrator Kakō also had connections with Stanford University's David Starr Jordan (1851-1931), who mentions him in his memoirs as providing "paintings of fifty of the most brilliant species" later published in 1906 in The Fishes of Samoa.5 A "Morita, Kako, Assistant Artist, 1902-03" is also listed under faculty in the Stanford University 1921 Alumni Directory and Ten-Year Book III 1891-1920.6 This Morita also worked at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and his name appears multiple times in their 1910 yearbook.7 His botanical illustrations of cacti can be found in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, which carries the following biographical notes on the artist.8
It is worth noting the year 1904, the date of Morita's hiring by Henry Nachtrieb and Thomas Sadler Roberts, as mentioned above, would have coincided with the year his teacher Okakura Tenshin moved to Boston to take up his position at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Sample Signatures and Seals of the Artist
Prints in Collection
click on thumbnail for print details