Reader Collection > Exhibitions > Realistic Japanese Printed Bird Art from the early 20th century















Japanese artists working in the early twentieth century (i.e., 1900-1930s) drew birds in a much more realistic way than did their predecessors. For example, both the shape and coloring of the pair of Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus) drawn by the early twentieth century’s most prolific bird artist (i.e., Koson Ohara) in picture 1 were more true-to-life than in picture 2 drawn by Koson’s early nineteenth century counterpart (i.e., Hiroshige Utagawa). Making birds look more lifelike reflected the increased influence of realistic European art on early twentieth century Japanese artists. At that time Japan was undergoing a process of modernization and the adoption of the more realistic European style of art was part of that process. Koson was only one of many Japanese artists whose art blended European realism with traditional Japanese idealism. The work of twenty-five of these artists is included in this virtual exhibition. A representative example of each artist’s work was chosen from bird prints in the Reader Collection of Japanese Art which includes more than one thousand early twentieth century Japanese bird prints. The twenty-five artists are arranged by their total bird print production, starting with the most productive artist Koson Ohara.


Additional Reading


Newland, Amy Reigle, Perrée, Jan and Schaap, Robert. 2001. Crows, Cranes and Camellias, the Natural World of Ohara Koson 1877-1945. Hotei Publishing, Leiden.




Picture 1 by Koson Ohara


Picture 2 by Hiroshige Utagawa










1   Black-billed magpie (Pica pica) by Koson Ohara, 190 x 355 mm











2   Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) by Rakusan Tsuchiya, 615 x 470 mm













3   Mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) by Shōun Yamamoto, 190 x 365 mm











4   White-backed woodpecker (Drycopos leucotos) by Gessō Yoshimoto, 125 x 250 mm











5   Java sparrow (Padda oryzivora) by Sōzan Itō, 170 x 380 mm











6   Crow (Corvus sp.) by Shōtei Takahashi, 185 x 125 mm













7   Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) by Kōgyo Tsukioka, 275 x 275 mm













8   Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) by Gekkō Ogata, 250 x 250 mm













9   Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) by Kōitsu Tsuchiya, 195 x 390 mm











10   Hawk (Accipiter sp.) by Suikō Fukuda, 275 x 400 mm











11   Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) by Bihō Takahashi, 240 x 265 mm













12   Olive-backed pipit (Anthus hodgsoni) by Gyōsui, 125 x 245 mm











13   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Kakō Tsuji, 195 x 365 mm











14   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Kōhō Shoda, 80 x 340 mm











15   Cockatoo (Cacatua sp.) by Hodō Nishimura, 275 x 395 mm











16   Blue-and-white flycatcher (Cyanoptila cyanomelana) by Chikuseki Yamamoto, 250 x 240 mm













17   Common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) by Soseki Komori, 215 x 390 mm











18   Japanese bush-warbler (Cettia diphone) by , 195 x 400 mm











19   Green pheasant (Phasianus versicolor) by Benji Asada, 450 x 295 mm













20  Green pheasant (Phasianus versicolor) by Suian Hirafuku, 235 x 230 mm













21  Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) by Nisaburō Itō, 270 x 300 mm













22   Mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) by Hasui Kawase, 390 x 270 mm













23   Mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) by Goyō Hashiguchi, 405 x 265 mm













24   Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) by Fuyō Narazaki, 175 x 395 mm











25   Scarlet macaw (Ara macao) by Kōitsu Ishiwata, 250 x 510 mm




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