Dutch Anatomy Book Illustrations and Edo Painting

Dr. Hiroko Johnson

Lecture 1998-03-23

Akita ranga is the art school founded in the Edo period by the daimyo Lord Satake Shozan. During Japan's long period of isolation, rangaku (Dutch-learning became popular among the educated classes. Sugita Ganpaku translated the nation's first anatomy book, Kaitai Shinsho, from Dutch in 1774. The illustrator was Odano Naotake. Through illustrating the anatomy book Naotake learned the Western artistic techniques of perspective and chiaroscuro (use of light and shade) and incorporated these elements into traditional Japanese painting. This lecture explains and illustrates Naotake's approach to Kaitai Shinsho.


Dr. Johnson is in Japan on a fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to write a book on Akita ranga. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo, and presently teaches Japanese Art History at California State University, Long Beach.


Edited from material submitted by Dr. Joshua Dale.