Butterfly and fleabane

Shiba Kōkan began his career as a painter working in the Kanō style and later studied with Sō Shiseki, who specialized in realistic Chinese-style bird-and-flower paintings. Kōkan was fascinated by Western science and painting techniques, learning from books acquired from the Dutch in Nagasaki, and taught himself how to make copper-plate engravings. After observing insects through a microscope, a rarity in Japan at the time, he wrote ‘all creatures on earth, even the tiniest insects have nerves, ears, eyes and limbs, just as humans have’.

Details

Further reading

Hillier, J., The Harari Collection of Japanese Paintings and Drawings, copyright owned by Michael Harari, 3 vols (London: Lund Humphries, 1973), no. 312 on p. 544, illus. p. 545 fig. 312

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