Asai Chu (浅井忠)

Chu ASAI (July 22, 1856 - December 16, 1907) was a Western-style painter in the Meiji period. He also contributed as an educator.

At the Edo residence of the Sakura Domain (currently, Sakura City, Chiba Prefecture), he was born the first son of Tsuneaki ASAI, a feudal retainer of the domain. Chu spent his childhood in an area, which is now called Masakado-machi in Sakura City, from 1863 to 1872. He learned Confucianism including shishogokyo (the Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism, the Nine Chinese Classics) and martial arts at the domain's school, Seitoku Shoin College (the predecessor of Chiba Prefectural Sakura Senior High School where his father Tsuneaki had once worked as the headmaster of the college) in the Sakura Domain. At the same time, from the age of 13, he learned Kacho-ga (painting of flowers and birds) from Kaizan KUROYAMA, a Nanga painter (an original style of painting in the Edo period which had a great deal of influence from the Chinese Nanga style) in the Sakura Domain. He was given the go (pseudonym) of 'Kaitei' and showed potential of his talent since then.

He migrated to Edo in 1873. At first, he enrolled in an English-language school but transferred to Shogido (Western-style private art school), where he learned oil painting under the guidance of Shinkuro KUNISAWA. In 1876, he enrolled in Technology Arts School to learn Western-style painting, where he was influenced particularly by the teacher Antonio Fontanesi. After graduation, he was stationed to China as a painter for newspapers. In 1889, Asai played a leading role in the foundation of the Meiji Art Society. In 1898, he became a professor at Tokyo School of Fine Arts (present Tokyo University of the Arts). In 1900, he went to France to study Western-style painting.

After returning to Japan in 1902, he was assigned as a professor at Kyoto Higher School of Design (present Kyoto Institute of Technology).

He also opened his own private school, Shogoin Institute of Western Art (present Kansai Bijutsuin [Fine Arts Academy of Western Japan]) and made effort to train younger artists. He was excellent, not only as a painter, but also as an educator.

Also, he taught Western-style painting to Shiki MASAOKA, and Asai is said to be the model of Master Fukami, a painter who appeared in "Sanshiro," a novel by Soseki NATSUME.

Noted Works
"Shunbo" (Spring Ridge) (housed in Tokyo National Museum/designated as National Important Cultural Property)
"Shukaku" (Harvest) (housed in Tokyo University of the Arts/ designated as National Important Cultural Property)
"Autumn in Grez-sur-Loing" (housed in Tokyo National Museum)
"Washing Place in Grez-sur-Loing"
"Kumo" (Clouds)
"Noka" (Farm House) (Higasa no aru Fukei [Landscape with a Parasol])
"Yase no Aki" (Autumn in Yase)
"Gyofu" (Fisherwoman)
"Warayane" (Thatched Roof)
"Farmers and Crows"
"Fontainebleau no Mori" (Fontainebleau Forest)
"Cherry Blossoms"
"Nude Sitting"
"Village near Hachioji" (1887, housed in Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art)

[Original Japanese]