About the artist
Born in Edo, Zeshin Shibata (né Kametaro Shibata) was the son of a sculptor. At the age of 11, he began to apprentice in a lacquer workshop. As his artistic pursuits transitioned to painting, Zeshin studied under Nanrei, before moving to Kyoto and the tutelage of Toyohiko Okamoto. Zeshin continued his training in lacquer under Koma Kansai II to become one of the greatest Japanese lacquer painters of the 19th century. Zeshin’s lacquer experience is evident through his mastery of urushi-e (woodblock prints with a lacquer-like surface effect), as well as his Shijo-style paintings. As a printmaker, he explored natural subjects, Japanese legends, and history. Though the shift from the Edo to the Meiji period proved a tumultuous transition for Japan, Zeshin remained steady in his work. In 1875, he served as the official representative of Japan at an exhibition in Vienna, and again in Philadelphia in 1876. By the end of his life, Zeshin belonged to the Imperial Art Academy and was an appointed member of the Art Committee of the Imperial Household (1890).