We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Beauty looking back

circa 1928


Kainoshō Tadaoto


1894 – 1978

  • Details

    Alternative title
    Mikaeri bijin
    Place where the work was made
    Shōwa period 1926 - 1988 → Japan
    circa 1928
    Media categories
    Scroll , Painting
    Materials used
    hanging scroll; ink, colour and gilt on paper
    60.3 x 39.5 cm image; 145.0 x 42.0 x 47.0 cm scroll
    Signature & date

    Signed u.r., in Japanese [inscribed in ink] "Tadaoto [and artist's seal]". Not dated.

    Purchased 1991
    South Building, ground level, 20th-century galleries
    Accession number
    © Kainoshô Tadaoto

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Kainoshō Tadaoto

    Works in the collection


  • About

    As Japan struggled to come to terms with the new worlds of mechanisation and industrialisation, forging closer ties with the countries of the West in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Japanese artists became embroiled in the processes of tumultuous change. Long established and powerfully entrenched traditions were both challenged and revitalised. In painting two distinctive attitudes emerged. One, known as yōga, followed Western styles; the other, 'nihonga', extended the Japanese tradition. In the nationalistic Taishō (1912-26) and early Shōwa eras (1926-89) 'nihonga' was the dominant style. Kainoshō, from Kyoto, was a leading 'nihonga' artist. In this beguiling figure he synthesises the Japanese aesthetic with qualities of modernity, particularly evidenced in the colours and graphic fluency. The drawing of the face and modelling of the features also betrays some Western influence. In a biography of Kainoshō, Isamu Kurita notes that the artist employed one particular model who, according to his sister, was 'the only woman whom my brother, who preferred men to women, wanted to marry'. The woman was Maruoka Tokuko, quite possibly the subject of this painting. Previously the mistress of a stockbroker, she subsequently married a doctor, while seemingly remaining Kainoshō's constant muse.

    Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 286.

    '(Mr Masayoshi Kainoshō (the artist's nephew) and his wife confirmed that the model was Tokuko at an interview with the curator of Japanese art in 1999)' AJIOKA Chiaki, Curator of Japanese art, AGNSW, May 2000.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 7 publications