Who Is Kuroda Seiki The Inspiration Behind The Google Doodle?
mason jar of paintbrush lot
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Who Is Kuroda Seiki The Inspiration Behind The Google Doodle?

Rachael Grealish August 9, 2022

Some of the most brilliant and influential people have been celebrated as a Google Doodle and the inspiration behind today’s is Kuroda Seiki.

From Frida Kahlo to Stephen Hawking some amazing people have been remembered as a Doodle and today, August 9, Google is celebrating what would have been the 156th birthday of the Japanese artist and teacher.

Who is Kuroda Seiki?

Seiki was born on this day in 1866 in Takamibaba, Satsuma Domain, which is present-day Kagoshima Prefecture and was the son of a samurai of the Shimazu clan. After his birth, he was adopted by his uncle at birth and moved to his estate in Tokyo.

His uncle served in high positions in the imperial government and was named a viscount while Seiki was young.

When Seiki was 18 years old he travelled to Paris with the intention of studying law but instead chose to pursue painting, which was previously just his hobby, after he met the painters Yamamoto Hosui and Fuji Masazo, as well as art dealer Tadamasa Hayashi.

While in France, he spent a decade learning how to paint in the Western academic style, honing his craft during a period of self-discovery, before he returned to Japan in 1893.

Seiki brought back with him a painting named ‘Morning Toilette’ which was the first nude painting to be publicly exhibited in Japan, but it was destroyed during the Second World War.

After returning to his home country Seiki started a Western painting school called Tenshin Dojo and established pleinairism which is the practice of painting outdoors.

Then in 1896, he founded the Habuka-kai—also known as the White Horse Society—a group of Japanese practitioners of yoga and painting. He was also invited to teach the Western Painting Department at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts.

In his later years he was named the teishitsu gigei-in, or Imperial Household Artist, to create works for the Tokyo Imperial Palace then 1917 he was given the title Viscount and served as the President of the Imperial Art Academy.

In 1920, Kuroda was elected to join Japan’s house of peers, or Kizoku-in, the new aristocratic social class during the Meiji Era.

At the age of only 57, Seiki passed away, in 1924.

Kuroda Seiki Google Doodle

Today, August 9, would’ve been Seiki’s 156th birthday and is being celebrated because of him making a ‘lasting impression on the art world in Japan and beyond, inspiring the next generation of Western-style, Impressionist and Pleinairist artists to continue his legacy’, according to Google.

His works can be found in countless museums and galleries such as the Artizon Museum in Tokyo and the Kuroda Memorial Hall within the Tokyo National Museum. Two of his works, Maiko (1893) and Lakeside (1897), have also been selected as commemorative postage stamps by the Japanese government.

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Rachael is the Senior Content Editor at Freshered. She is NCTJ qualified with an MA in journalism. Rachael has almost ten years experience as a journalist in regional, national and international press and is passionate about creating engaging content.