Watanabe Seitei - Japonica Graphic

Watanabe Seitei

Watanabe Seitei (1851–1918)



1852 Born in Edo.

At the age of 13 he went to work for a pawnbroker, but his drawings were so good that the owner persuaded him to become an apprentice to Kikuchi Yosai at the age of 16.

For the first three years of his apprenticeship, Kikuchi did not allow him to use a paintbrush, but instead allowed him to study calligraphy in accordance with Yosai's teaching: "Calligraphy and painting are one and the same.

However, after three years, Yosai asked his pupil to explore and develop his own style.

As an anecdote from his apprenticeship, it is said that when Yosai returned from a walk with Seitei, he would ask him questions about the kimonos, patterns and folds of people he saw on the street, and scolded him heavily if Seitei did not answer without hesitation. Later, Seitei recalled that he began to burn what he saw into his mind, which led to the development of the art of sketching.

In 1875, he joined Japan's first trading company as a draftsman.
In 1877, he became the first Japanese painter to study in Paris, where he stayed for two or three years.

He took no pupils and remained a loner. In addition to his wife, he had another lover, whose house he used as his studio, and he continued to visit each of them for 30 years until his death.
For 30 years, until his death at the age of 68, he lived a life of leisure and contentment, until he collapsed from a stroke of apoplexy.
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