Taki Katei (1830-1901) was once a celebrated artist in Tokyo. His paintings hung in the Imperial court and they travelled to major exhibitions in Europe and the USA. As fashions changed his beautiful paintings of flowers and birds fell out of favour. Now, our new exhibition brings this forgotten artist back into the limelight for a new generation.
In 2019 National Museums Liverpool will host the first-ever exhibition of Taki Katei’s work outside Japan as part of the Japan 2020 Cultural Olympiad. The exhibition draws on National Museum Liverpool’s rare collection of more than 300 exquisite preparatory drawings that Taki Katei used for teaching, for preparing some of his major commissions, and as an aide-mémoire. The exhibition not only reveals the techniques of this great artist, but it tells the story of how this astonishing collection of ink drawings and watercolours travelled thousands of miles from an artist’s studio in Tokyo to a museum in Liverpool. The exhibition will be supplemented with a small number of loans from the British Museum, including two silk paintings and a series of manuals relating to specific subjects and techniques.
As many of these pieces are not ‘finished works’ this exhibition will evoke the feeling of an artist’s studio and explore the ways a great artist mastered his craft. We want our visitors to follow Taki Katei’s lead and take part in a series of artist masterclasses, using the drawings for tracing, practising their skills and finding new techniques.
This exhibition aims to open up National Museums Liverpool’s collection for the education and enjoyment of the public. The exhibition has been timed to coincide with the Japan 2020 Cultural Olympiad to add to the conversation and understanding of Japanese culture at this important time.