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Zeshin, Shibata

Shibata Zeshin (柴田 是真, March 15, 1807 – July 13, 1891) was the son of a sculptor. At age 11 he apprenticed in the workshop of a lacquer craftsman and then later studied painting under Suzuki Nanrei and Okamoto Toyohiko. An artist and artisan of superior skill and diversity, Zeshin worked as a painter, printmaker and lacquerer. Zeshin was also an ukiyo-e print maker whose art style is traditional and conservative, his artistic styling remained untouched by all the domestic turmoil in Japan during the transition from the old Edo period to the era of modernization during the Meiji period.

He was very successful and his art work became a kind of showcase of the official Japan for the world outside. Zeshin participated as official representative of Japan in international exhibitions in Vienna in 1875, in Philadelphia in 1876 and in Paris. Towards the end of his life the artist became a member of the Imperial Art Academy. And in 1890, one year before his death, he was appointed as member of the Art Committee of the Imperial household – one of the highest honors in those days.

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