Yasui Sotaro and Art of Japan: Paris and Domestic Influence

Yasui Sotaro and Art of Japan: Paris and Domestic Influence

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


Yasui Sotaro (1888-1955) was born in Kyoto and he is famous for yoga (Western-style) portraiture. It is clear that this talented individual understood his vocation because he pursued a career in art despite his family desiring a more commercial career. Therefore, from an early age Yasui Sotaro was clearly determined and in time he would blossom in the art field.

He was very fortunate to have studied under Asai Chu who sadly died in 1907 when Yasui Sotaro was still a teenager. Asai Chu was a stunning Japanese painter who inspired many artists in Japan. This notably applies to Yasui Sotaro, Suda Kunitaro, Umehara Ryuzaburo – and other artists – who were inspired by Asai Chu.


Not surprisingly, Yasui Sotaro also moved to France just like Asai Chu had done during his lifetime. He moved to Paris in 1907 and stayed until 1914 and this period of his life was very beneficial to this talented individual. Indeed, it is clear that Yasui Sotaro was extremely lucky to have studied under Asai Chu in Japan and then under Jean-Paul Laurens at the Academie Julian because both individuals gave so much.

During his stay in Paris Yasui Sotaro became influenced by the art of Paul Cezanne, Jean-Francois Millet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It is stated that he was especially influenced by Paul Cezanne. Therefore, the fusions of Japanese art and European art along with the rich vibrancy of the Paris art scene, impacted greatly on this talented individual. However, with the outbreak of World War One he had to return to Japan. Despite this, his years in Paris had clearly inspired Yasui Sotaro to reach a new realm.


Yasui Sotaro, Umehara Ryuuzaburo, Ishii Hakutei and Fujishima Takeji had all gained from their respective experiences in France. They also studied in this country in the same time-frame. Indeed, the power of France influenced Ishi Hakutei to introduce the art of Rodin and Renoir to the Tokyo art scene.

The following decade witnessed recurring problems related to the health of Yasui Sotaro. However, from an art point of view it was still a time of further artistic growth. Yasui Sotaro in this period focused on vibrant colors and outlines that were clear. Therefore, you can notice his style within the landscapes and portraits that he produced. Also, traditional Nihonga techniques fused naturally with realism and other thought patterns that he studied in France.


Notable art pieces by Yasui Sotaro include Black-haired Woman, Portrait of a Woman,  Early Summer, Autumn at Lake Towada, A Suburb of Kyoto, Girl in New-Year Clothes, Roses and Chin-Jung. Throughout his career Yasui Sotaro produced many stunning pieces of art that have blessed the art world.


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Some art and cultural articles are republished based on the need to highlight the unique nature of Japan.

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