Kono BAIREI: Cormorants

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Kono BAIREI: Cormorants


Artist: Kono BAIREI

Subject: Cormorants

Series: Bairei Kacho Gafu

Publisher: Okura Shoten

Seal: Bairei

Date: 1899

Format: ôban, 24.4 x 36.5 cm

Condition: Very good impression, fine color in very good condition

album holes

Born March 3, 1844 in Kyoto, and originally named Yasuda Bairei, Kōno Bairei was one of the leading practitioners of the ukiyo-e school devoted to pictures of birds and flowers (kacho-ga) in the Meiji period.  Unlike the majority of ukiyo-e artists, he was trained as a classical Japanese painter.  As a child, Bairei studied with Nakajima Raishō (1796-1871), a Maruyama school artist, and in his late twenties, with Shiokawa Bunrin (1808-1877) of the Shijō school.1

In 1873, he was invited to show his work at the second Kyoto Exposition and he would go on to show at other government sponsored expositions.  Through these expositions Bairei attracted the attention of the abbot of Higashi Honganji in Kyoto, Ōtani Kōshō, who patronized Bairei and took him along on journeys to Kyushu in 1877 and the Kantō in 1885.

Along with Kubota Beisen (1852-1906)2, Mochizuki Gyokusen (1834-1913) and a few others, he co-founded the Kyoto Prefectural Painting School in 1878. The Kyoto University of Arts which operates today has its origins in this school.  Bairei headed the Northern School for a brief time, before a

dispute with another artist and teacher Suzuki Hyakunen (1825-1891) led to both men leaving. He would return again in 1888, and leave once again in 1890 amid controversy over changes he proposed