Ogyū Tensen

undated photo of artist

Ogyū Tensen 荻生天泉 (1882-1947)1 


Sources: Most of the below information is translated from information provided in Japanese by the Nihonmatsu City Board of Education Museum Collections website https://jmapps.ne.jp/nhmsik/det.html?data_id=6635 [accessed 11-22-23] and the Fukushima Prefectural Board of Education websites including https://www.gimu.fks.ed.jp/plugin/databases/detail/3/27/690#frame-27[accessed 11-22-23] 

Ogyū, a popular nihonga style painter, was born on April 28, 1882 with the name of Ogyū Moritoshi 荻生守俊 in present-day Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture. His father was a Shinto priest. From a young age Ogyū wanted to be an artist. After his schooling in the Fukushima area, he attended, and graduated from, Tokyo Fine Arts School (Tōkyō Bijutsu Gakkō), where he was taught by the well-known Kanō school painter Gahō Hashimoto (1835-1908), who was instrumental in the development of a new type of national painting called nihonga.1 

Ogyū was selected to participate in the first Bunten exhibition (Ministry of Education Fine Arts Exhibition) in 1907, in which he won an award. He went on to win many other awards at the Bunten exhibitions and the exhibitions of its successor organizations, the Teiten (Imperial Academy of Fine Arts) and Shin Bunten along with exhibitions of the Japan Arts Institute (Nihon Bijutsuin)2 and the post-war 1946 Nitten (Japan Fine Arts Exhibition). He participated in the Futaba kai (an artist society heavily influenced by Gahō) and the Bijutsu Kenseikai (Fine Art Research Association).  He also served as a judge in various exhibitions, enhancing his status as a nihonga painter.  He was popular with the Imperial Court (kyutei) which commissioned paintings by him. As the first secretary-general of the Fukuyo Art Society (a meeting of Japanese painters in Tokyo from Fukushima Prefecture), he also served as a mentor to a younger generation of painters. He maintained close ties with his home town, participating in various artist groups and leaving many of his works to Nihonmatsu City. An example of one of his large paintings in the collection of the Rijksmuseum is shown below. 

The Bamboo River (Tales of Genji, Chapter 44) by Ogyū Tensen, c. 1915/c. 1940

Folding screen, ink, dyes, silk - 30 x 66 3/4 in. (169.5 × 376 cm)

Source: Rijksmuseum AK-RAK-2016-2-1 http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.625195 [accessed 11-22-23]

It is unclear how many designs Ogyū created for woodblock prints. The Nihonmatsu City website shows a number of works on paper by the artist (along with a number of paintings), but doesn't specifically identify them as woodblock prints. This collection’s woodblock print Itsukushima is the one confirmed example of a woodblock designed by him and it is unknown if it is an original design for this print or a copy of an existing work by the artist. 

1 The artist's date of death is variously given as 1945, 1946 or 1947. I've used the date given by the Yamatane Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

2 Japan Art Institute, founded by Okakura Tenshin (1862-1913) in 1898 when he left the Tokyo School of Fine Arts.

Prints in Collection

click on thumbnail for print details