Organized Panel Session
This paper investigates the intermedial relationship between printing, painting and textile design in the late 19th century through a case study of Imao Keinen’s (1845-1924) bird-and-flower painting manual (Keinen kachō gafu). Initially published in 1891, Keinen’s bird-and-flower painting manual was a set of four-volume books. It became widely popular among Japanese, Chinese artists, designers and Western collectors. Different from previous painting manuals, it aimed to promote the design quality, in addition to offering scientifically accurate representations of nature. In fact, this manual signified a new model of collaboration between textile companies and artists in response to the growing domestic and overseas markets. Keinen’s training in painting, printing and dyeing prepared him well to be a textile designer. This paper argues that such collaboration was possible not only due to the market demand but also the technical innovation in textile production (kata yūzen) and synthetic dyes, which could simulate gradations of color and chromatic effects to create sophisticated pictorial designs on textiles. Furthermore, the curriculum of painting and design at major art schools in the 1890s cultivated a new generation of artists who could easily work across media, and eventually changed how Japanese prints, paintings and textile designs looked in the next decade. Although this set of illustrated books was titled as a painting manual, its goals were multiple: it aimed to integrate science into art, manifesting the artistic traditions while providing invaluable design ideas in response to divergent consumers’ tastes.