Yokoyama Taikan (1868-1958) was the pseudonym of a major figure in Meiji, Taisho and early Showa-eras Japanese painting. He is notable for helping create the Japanese painting technique of Nihonga.
Taikan was extremely influential in the evolution of the Nihonga technique, having departed from the traditional use of the line drawing. Together with Hishida Shunso, he developed a new style, eliminating the lines and concentrating on soft, blurred polychromes. While Yokoyama's works tended to remain faithful in general to the traditional Rimpa school style, he experimented with various techniques borrowed from western painting methods. However, such a cutting-edge technique was severely criticized by other traditional painters. His style was called "Mourou-tai (Blurred style)", which nowadays exactly depicts his painting's character, meant the lack of energy and vitality sarcastically. He later turned almost exclusively to monochrome ink paintings, and came to be known for his mastery of the various tones and shades of black. A number of his works have been classified as Important Cultural Property by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
In the pre-World War II era, Taikan was sent to Italy by the Japanese government as an official representative of the Japanese artistic community. Because his teacher Okakura Tenshin was a nationalist, known as a loyal philosopher in Meiji-era as well, Taikan was very much influenced by his thoughts. Consequently, he repeatedly used Mount Fuji as a motif of his paintings, presented them to the Imperial family and even painted it as a gift to Hitler ordered by Ministry of Education (this painting is still missing.) While the World War II, he donated his earnings from the sales of his paintings to the national military, and this resulted in his interrogation accused of a suspected war criminal by GHQ. In 1935, he was appointed to the Imperial Arts Academy (the forerunner of the Japan Art Academy), and in 1937, He was one of the first persons to be awarded the Order of Culture when it was established in 1937. He was also awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, first class.
On 26 February 1958, Yokoyama Taikan died in Tokyo at the age of eighty-nine; his former house is now open to the public as the Yokoyama Taikan Memorial Museum. His brain is preserved in formaldehyde at the University of Tokyo Medical School.
Seisei Ruten (55.3 cm X 4070 cm )