Takeuchi, Seihô [竹内栖鳳] (1864–1942) By Loh Kazuhara, Eve
Takeuchi Seihô was one of the most prolific Nihonga painters in Kyoto’s painting circles. Originally trained under Kôno Bairei [幸野楳嶺] (1884–1895) from the Maruyama-Shijiô school [円山四条], Seihô excelled in depicting nature scenes, and advocated sketching from life or shasei [写生] as the foundation for artistic practice. Seihô was adept at and experimented with Western-style painting upon returning from a six-month trip to Europe in 1901. He explored a diverse range of subjects and styles including Western landscapes, poetic ink paintings, decorative figure works, and realistic animal paintings. In order to depict animals, Seihô observed animals extensively, thus capturing not only their likeness but also their psychological characteristics. Tabby Cat [班猫] (1924), which is classified as Important Cultural Property in Japan, showcases Seihô’s mastery and grasp of animal subjects. In 1937, Seihô was awarded the Order of Culture. In addition to his successful career as an artist, he was a teacher who profoundly influenced the next generation of Nihonga artists from Kyoto.