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(Japanese, 1886-1968)
Reclining Nude
signed and dated 'I. Tanabe 1933' (lower right)
oil on canvas
72.7 x 90.9 cm. (28 5/8 x 35 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1933
Private Collection, Japan

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Lot Essay

Itaru Tanabe taught Western Art at the Tokyo School of Fine Art and mentored many Taiwanese artists, such as Liao Chi-Chun, Chen Chengpo, Li Shih Chiao, and Liao Te-Cheng, thus heavily influencing Taiwanese Modern Art. Tanabe had won prizes in the Imperial Exhibition of Fine Art where he later served as a jury member as well. He preferred natural, outdoor light, integrating techniques from Impressionism with his own subjective consciousness to create a fusion of traditional and modern style based on strict academic techniques.
Reclining Nude (Lot 236) is a portrait set in an interior, yet the light shining on the female figure's body appears to be natural light. The colorful blanket beneath the figure reduces the heaviness of the dark background. Tanabe gives the viewer immense space for imagination by capturing the natural light and layering on the colors in steady strokes.
A Vase of Flowers (Lot 238) is a still-life with much vitality; the dark background highlights the color of the flowers and the corresponding pattern on the curtain. The leftmost flowers are reaching outwards like a misbehaved student in an orderly team, bringing a sense of fun to the picture. The darker part of the painting is not pure black, which allows the viewer to enjoy the color gradients. It is a scene Tanabe created after a careful analysis of light reflections and environmental influences.
A Vase of Flowers and Roses (Lot 237) share the same flower theme, but the expressions are entirely different, evident from the varying perspectives he uses at the edge of the respective tables. In Roses, Tanabe abandons pure imitation of nature, using his own interpretation of space and the subject. He uses a simple composition and with the help of strong lines and colors, releasing the image from the rules nature. The viewer can feel the intensity of the scene through the arching flower branches, the expressive brushwork, and the light contrast between the vase and table cloth.

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