Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Woman breast-feeding while eating from her bentō, or food box


    • currently in research collection

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  • Japanese Decorative Arts of the Meiji Period 1868-1912 by Oliver Impey and Joyce Seaman

    Japanese Decorative Arts of the Meiji Period

    Bronze figure of a woman cradling a baby on her knee. She holds chopsticks in her right hand and is stretching out to reach a food box (bentō) containing rice, placed on a cloth beside her. She sits on a rustic wooden bench with her bare feet on the ground. Signed underneath: Udagawa Kazuo saku.

    The mother has presumably just finished breast-feeding her baby, and is now eating her lunch from her bentō box. The naturalism sought by the sculptors trained at the Tōkyō Art School, where Natsuo [EAX.3852] and Shōmin [EA1998.220] taught traditional metalworking skills, was much influenced by the Italian sculptor Vincenzo Ragusa (1841-1927), an oyatoi gaijin, one of the foreign 'experts' invited by the Japanese government to advise on various western skills. Carving in wood and ivory was taught, as well as casting in bronze.

    Udagawa Kazuo seems to be unrecorded except for his authorship of this fine bronze, examples of which were exhibited in the St. Louis in 1904 and in the Japan-British Exhibition in London in 1910.

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