Ryoya (A Moonlit Night)

Item #



Repaired & Restored


Showa 1940


Ink and color on silk




81-3/4 x 37-3/8 inches





Artists were invited to submit appropriate paintings for the 1940 exhibition, which was intended to glorify Japanese militarism and nationalism. Shimei, who specialized in paintings of beautiful women, obviously ignored the theme entirely. He shows instead a middle-aged woman who appears to have stepped outside on a clear, moonlit night to see off a guest at her gate. She pauses to look up at the moon.

Shimei moved to Tokyo in 1940 and became a student of the Nihonga painter Kaburagi Kiyokata (1878-1973) at the age of twenty-one in 1913. He lived most of his life in the small town of Nishinomiya, between Kobe and Osaka, and specialized in Nihonga paintings of traditional beauties. He showed his work in all of the major government-sponsored national exhibitions, namely the Bunten and Teiten. His first submission to a Teiten was in 1928 at the age of thirty-six, relatively late for an artist of that time; his entry was awarded 'Special Mention' but his teacher, Kiyokata, would not allow him to accept the prize (it would have made him exempt from the jury process in future shows). After the war Shimei himself became a judge for Nitten exhibitions. Shimei also worked as an illustrator for publications such as Nagata Osada's Seishun no yume (Youthful dream). In 1958 his students organized themselves as the Akemikai group, and Shimei exhibited with them. That same year he became an art critic. In the 1960s and '70s he received a number of prestigious awards for his painting from the Ministry of Education and the Japan Art Academy.

Tokyo Municipal Museum, Ueno Park
Sogo Museum,Yokohama
Sashima Kyodokan Myuzu, Sashimacho, Ibaragi
Kyoto City Museum of Art
Meguro Gajoen Museum, Tokyo
Karatsu City Modern Library Art Hall

-Collection of Modern Japanese Beauty Paintings, Tokyo: Shueisha, 1977, pl. 9
-Shinsui and Shimei Exhibition Committee, ed., Tozai bijinga no taiko, Kyoto: Kyoto City Museum, 1981, pl. 17
-History of the Nitten (Japan Art Exhibition), Tokyo: Korinsha, 1984, p. 132
-Paintings of Japanese Beauties at the Turn of the Century, Kyoto: Kyoto shoin, 1988, pl. 313
-Masterpieces of Japanese-style modern painting - Beauties, birds and flowers, Yokohama: Sogo Museum; Tokyo: Nihon keizai shinbunsha, 1988, pl. 52.
-Meguro Gajoen korekushon (Reminiscences of lyrical beauty: Exhibition of treasured masterpieces of Japanese-style painting of the Meiji, Taisho and Shows periods-the Meguro Gajoen collection, Tokyo: Art One Co., Ltd, 1983, pl. 66
-Special exhibition: Masterpieces of Japanese-style modern paintings from the Meguro Gajoen collection, Sashima Kyodokan Myuzu, 2000, pl. 9
-Revived Meguro Gajoen collection, Tokyo: Meguro Gajoen Museum, 1991, pl. 21
-Modern Japanese-style beauty painting from the collection of the Meguro Gajoen Museum, exh. cat., Karatsu: Karatsu City Modern Library, 1999, pl. 15

Hosokawa Rikizo Collection
Meguro Gajoen Museum, Tokyo



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