Takahashi Ukiyo-e Collection

The extensive Takahashi Ukiyo-e Collection, comprised of almost 1,500 works, is a valuable collection that will serve as a source for future study and research in various academic fields including art history and history. With this purpose in mind, the materials are stored under strict management at the Keio University Library.

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Introduction

Seiichiro Takahashi, who served as president (interim) of Keio University, was a pupil of Yukichi Fukuzawa and a prominent economist known for his research on the economic theory of mercantilism. After the Second World War, he also served as the Minister of Education, the director of the Tokyo National Museum, and the director of the Japan Art Academy, leaving a significant mark in the world of Japanese art and culture. He received an Order of Culture in recognition for his accomplishments. 

Takahashi was also a well-known private collector of Edo period ukiyo-e prints. He was also the president of the Japan Ukiyo-e Society (current International Ukiyo-e Society), and while actively pursuing research on ukiyo-e, he developed a deep affection for this genre, which was hugely popular among ordinary people during  pre-modern Japan, and became an avid collector of numerous woodblock prints and paintings. He used to amuse himself with ukiyo-e prints during his childhood in Yokohama and Tokyo in the Meiji period, and he became a serious collector when he started working as a professor at Keio University in the second half of the Taisho period. Initially, Takahashi sought nostalgic works from the Meiji period, but gradually he built up a systematic collection which included earlier works dating back to mid- to late Edo period. The vast collection covers a wide span of the history of woodblock prints, from the works of the earliest master Moronobu Hishikawa, to masterpieces produced by great artists who have become synonymous with the ukiyo-e genre such as Harunobu Suzuki, Utamaro Kitagawa, Sharaku Toshusai, Hokusai Katsushika, and Hiroshige Utagawa, as well as Meiji-period works by Kiyochika Kobayashi and Yoshitoshi Tsukioka. This is an incredibly rare and unique collection that not only gives a general survey of the history of ukiyo-e, but reflects the consistent goal of Takahashi's collecting efforts and is indicative of his insights and perspectives as an excellent researcher.

When Takahashi passed away in 1982, a large part of his main collection, excluding shunga and other works, was donated by his family members to his alma mater Keio University. The extensive ukiyo-e collection, comprised of almost 1,500 works, is highly valuable as a source for future study and research in various academic fields including art history and history. With this purpose in mind, the materials are stored  under strict management at the Keio University Library.

Professor Masato Naito, Faculty of Letters

The History of Ukiyo-e through the Takahashi Ukiyo-e Collection

This is a digest of ukiyo-e works with commentaries in chronological order from the genre's early years to the end of the Edo period. In 2007, the Media Center held nine online exhibitions titled "The History of Ukiyo-e through the Takahashi Ukiyo-e Collection" on the old digital gallery website each time new digital images from the collection were released. Under the supervision of Professor Masato Naito (Faculty of Letters), around 70 works were selected with attached commentaries. The exact contents have been made available on the new website. Commentaries for the last four sections were written by Kenji Hinohara (Ōta Memorial Museum of Art) and Associate Professor Kazutaka Higuchi (Jumonji University).

The History of Ukiyo-e through the Takahashi Ukiyo-e Collection