Soon after his birth in Ibaragi Prefecture, Yokoyama Taikan and his family moved to Tokyo. He studied painting for a short time with Yuki Masaaki (1834-1904) and entered the Tokyo School of Fine Arts for further study. This famed institution was established by the Ministry of Education with Okakura Tenshin (1862-1913) as its headmaster to teach Japanese-style painting. Although he had numerous painting instructors, Taikan was most influenced by Hashimoto Gaho (1835-1908), the last of the great Kano-school painters. Joining the art school's faculty upon completion of his course of study, Taikan participated in the mass resignation that occurred when Okakura was dismissed. At Okakura's urging he traveled, first to India in 1903, and with Okakura to America in 1904.
Taikan became a founder of the Japan Art Institute (Inten) in 1898 and remained an officer of that organization until his death. His strong opinions and principles often put him at odds with the Ministry of Education, however, with the result that the Japan Art Institute was frequently without government-sponsored exhibitions. One of the founding fathers of modern Nihonga, Taikan in his later years was distressed by the increasing Westernization of Japanese painting and he worked to preserve its traditions. In his accomplished professional career he served as a judge of Bunten, Teiten, and Inten exhibitions, was elected a Court Artist in 1931 and a member of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in 1935 and, in 1937, was among the first artists to receive the Order of Cultural Merit.
Yokoyama Taikan modernized Nihonga by his skillful use of Western artistic devices that would only enhance essential Japanese elements. Morotai, the use of shaded colors with few or no ink lines to define shapes, was Taikan's innovation. He is also credited with revolutionizing ink painting in a similar fashion by minimizing the use of line and introducing Western perspective, shading, and texture.
Another painting by Yokoyama Taikan of Mount Fuji entitled Red Fuji was sold in these Rooms on November 2, 1996, lot 472. For other Taikan seascape and mountain landscape paintings sold in these Rooms on December 18, 1992, see lots 33, 34, 35, and 36.