Biography of Japanese Painter

Ogawa Usen (1868 - 1938)

Ogawa Usen

Usen was born in the last year of the Tokugawa Shogunate at the official residence of Ushiku Domain in Edo (present Tokyo) as a son of Samurai.
His real given name was Mokichi.
Though, as the Abolition of the Han (domain) system in 1871, Ushiku Domain disappeared.
So, Usen's father decided to become a farmer.
In 1881, Usen started studying Western-style painting under Honda Kinkichiro.
In 1887, he entered a newspaper company (The Choya Shinbun) with recommendation of Ozaki Yukio.
His job was to draw illustrations and manga.
Later, Usen made up his mind to become a full-fledged Japanese-style painter.
However, in 1893, Usen's father gave him an order to come back to Ushiku of Ibaraki Prefecture and engage in farming.
After this, Usen kept painting with farming.
He depicted farmers in work, living objects near water and also supernatural monsters in Japanese folklore.
Especially, he drew paintings whose subjects were Kappa (river-child, legendary creature).
Usen also flourished as a Haiku poet.
In 1915, he established the Sango-Kai with Kawabata Ryushi.
Yokoyama Taikan recognized his talent, therefore, Usen became a member of the Nihon Bijutsu-In (The Japan Art Institute) in 1917.
In 1935, Usen became an advisor of the Imperial Art Academy.

  • Hatake no Obake, Monsters in the Field
  • Kappa
  • Sui Mi Tawamuru 1923
  • Wood Sprites 1921
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