FIRST SIGHT (GUIMET ROOM)
This special presentation is the fourth of a series of exhibitions that introduces the history of botany at the University of Tokyo as well as the botanical art that supported its development from the collection of the University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT). One of the representative works of botanist Makino Tomitarō is Icones Florae Japonicae, published by Tokyo Imperial University. In addition to the precise illustrations that Makino created himself, the publication includes four illustrations produced in collaboration between Makino and the botanical artist Yamada Toshio. Yamada began to specialize in botanical illustrations under Makino’s guidance, and was later called “Makino’s most trusted botanical artist”. This exhibition will feature all of the illustrations that Makino and Yamada collaborated on for Icones Florae Japonicae, showing plates 12, 13, and 14, which depict Microtropis japonica, and plate 15 of Cerasus sargentii from volume 1, part 4, published in 1911.
Organizer: The University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT)
Icones Florae Japonicae
Icones Florae Japonicae was edited solely by botanist Makino Tomitarō (1862–1957), compiled by the Laboratory of Botany at the Tokyo Imperial University’s College of Science, and published by Tokyo Imperial University. The 16 plates (one of which is a photograph) feature meticulously detailed illustrations that fill the large folio format. Part 1 of volume 1 was published in 1900, part 2 in 1902, part 3 in 1906, and part 4 in 1911. These publications were the result of Makino’s efforts to publish a book on the flora of Japan with thorough and accurate descriptions and illustrations of plants, with the aim of demonstrating the academic standards of Japan to the rest of the world. Earlier, Makino had published the Illustrations of the Flora of Japan (1988–1891), a series of books that envisioned a complete flora of Japan, which did not yet exist in Japan at that time, but it was never completed. The Icones Florae Japonicae can be said to replace Illustrations of the Flora of Japan. Together with Phanerogamae et Pteridophytae Japonicae Iconibus Illustratae; or, Figures with Brief Descriptions and Remarks of the Flowering Plants and Ferns of Japan (1899–1903), which was published around same time, it can be regarded as one of the publications that Makino worked on almost independently. However, these publications were also incomplete in covering the complete flora of Japan.
Makino was a rare botanist who could create precise botanical illustrations and write detailed descriptions of plants himself. Makino was skilled at rendering the shapes and details of plants with extremely delicate brush strokes. It is said that Makino used a special maki-e brush made of mouse hair to draw these fine lines. The exquisite expression of the plates in Icones Florae Japonicae was made possible by the high printing technology of the time, in addition to Makino’s excellent original illustrations. Botanical artist Yamada Toshio (1882–1941), who studied botanical illustrations under Makino’s guidance, was active from the late Meiji to early Shōwa eras. He is known as one of the illustrators of An Illustrated Flora of Nippon (1940) written by Makino. Of the 16 plates in Icones Florae Japonicae, four were produced in collaboration between Makino and Yamada. This collaboration is a testament to the trust that botanist Makino, renowned for the overwhelming quality of his botanical illustrations, placed in the botanical artist Yamada.