Odano Naotake (1759 – 1780) was a painter from the Akita Ranga art school. This art school was a by-product of the ‘rangaku’, the ‘Dutch learning’. Rangaku was an important movement in eighteenth-century Japan. It is the study of Holland and the Dutch during the time that the Dutch trade post on Desjima the only connection was with the outside world and the west. Through this contact, Japan stayed informed about Western developments, such as health care and other technologies.
This made Japan capable of fast modernization after the opening of the country in 1854. The Rangaku painters painted traditional Japanese themes with the use of Western techniques. The difference from the traditional paintings was the use of shadows, perspective and reflections. The painters also started using the color blue for the sky and sea. Naotake was also influenced by this new intellectual movement through Hiraga Gennai, a natural scientist and student of the Rangaky.
He inspired Naotake to study these new Western painting methods as well. He moved to Edo (Tokyo) to continue his studies there. Through contacts with other painters, Naotake mastered the painting of ‘bird and flower’, which is a traditional Jananese style painting with the use of Western perspective and depth. These methods brought these paintings to a higher level, more than just decorations. Naotake also illustrated Japan’s first anatomy book, the Kaitai shinsho.
This book was a Japanese translation of the Dutch book “Ontleedkundige Tafelen”, which was imported from Holland. Together with Gennai and Lord Satake Shozan (1748-85), Naotake started the Akita Ranga school of Art. When Gennai was arrested for killing a student and died shortly afterwards, Naotake was send away from his post in Edo. These developments made the school fall apart. ? Works Cited Johnson, H. Western Influence of Japanese Art: The Akita Ranga Art School. Amsterdam: Hotei Publishing, 2005.
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