Nakamura Daizaburo

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  • Born: 1898/3/21
  • Died: 1947/9/14
  • Japanese: 中村大三郎 (Nakamura Daizaburou)

Nakamura Daizaburô was a Nihonga painter who specialized in bijinga and served as an artistic director for Nikkatsu film studios, often using actresses from the studio as models for his paintings.

The son of a Kyoto-based kimono dyer, he studied at the Kyoto Municipal School of Fine Arts and Crafts from 1912 to 1916, and then at the Kyoto Municipal School of Painting, where he joined the faculty in 1925. He showed at the Bunten for the first time in 1918, with a piece titled Zange (lit. confession, repentance).[1]

Though early in his career he focused on painting images of Edo period beauties, or geisha, he is particularly known for a series of three large scale paintings featuring "modern beauties in domestic settings"[2] produced in the late 1920s-1930. The women in his earlier works have been described as "doll-like,"[2] but after marrying Tsuyuko, the eldest daughter of his painting teacher Nishiyama Suishô, around 1925-26, he began to paint more realistic and mature-looking women, basing his works more closely on live models.

The first of these works, a four-panel folding screen shown at the 1926 Teiten ("Imperial Exhibition"), titled At the Piano, depicts Daizaburô's wife in a red furisode, playing a piano. The sheet music is for pieces by 19th century German composer Robert Schumann, and a modern lamp stands in the background; this piece is today in the collection of the Kyoto City Museum of Art.[3] In 1928, he showed a horizontal hanging scroll painting titled Amimono ("Knitting"), which depicted a young beauty sitting on a sofa, surrounded by a credenza, gold clock, chandelier, and other modern scenery elements. To build the scenes within which the actresses would model for the painting, Daizaburô often borrowed such objects from hotels and other modern spaces.

The third in this series, titled simply Fujo ("Woman"), depicts the actress Irie Takako in a red furisode lounging on a light yellow-green chaise. The painting was shown at the 1930 Teiten, and is now in the collection of the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Along with several of Daizaburô's other works, it served as the inspiration for a series of dolls (complete with their own miniature furniture as in the painting), in what is called the Hakata ningyô ("Hakata doll") style, produced, presumably, in Hakata.

Daizaburô had a strong interest in traditional performing arts - he practiced tea ceremony, danced Noh, and played flute and hand-drum - and also in Western cinema and classical music. He founded his own studio in 1933 and began taking on students, continuing to paint and to teach painting, but also around 1938 turned to devoting more attention to Noh and related arts.


  • Brown, Kendall et al (eds.). Taishô Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia, and Deco. Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2001. pp72-77.
  1. "Nakamura Daizaburô." Nihon Jinmei Daijiten. Kodansha, 2009. Accessed via, 4 May 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Brown. p73.
  3. Conrad Schirokauer, David Lurie, and Suzanne Gay, A Brief History of Japanese Civilization, Wadsworth Cengage (2013), 214.