Japan Society of Fairfield County
Biography of Genjiro

Genjiro's self portrait Genjiro Kataoka was born in 1867 in Arita, Japan, the home of Arita Pottery.
Traditionally, families were limited to a single aspect of pottery production in Arita and the Kataoka family specialized in painting pottery. After the Meiji Revolution controls on the pottery industry were relaxed and Genjiro's brother became a prosperous potter.  Genjiro worked in the family business and was an accomplished pottery painter.  In 1891 he was adopted by the pottery family Ezoe , and he later used the name Yeto or Eto in United States.  He went to Chicago to attend the Columbian Exposition World Fair and to market Arita pottery.  This pottery was well received at the earlier fairs in Vienna in 1873 and in Philadelphia in 1876.  It should be noted that prior to the opening of Japan by Commodore Perry in 1854 almost no Japanese goods or culture reached the outside world.  After the Columbian Exposition, Genjiro moved to New York City, where he was a student at the Art Student League of New York.  He renounced his adoption to become a painter.  He studied under the Impressionists, especially John Twachtman.  In 1896 he came to the Cos Cob Artists' colony as an art student at the Bush-Holley house in Greenwich, CT.  and introduced Japanese painting techniques and styles.  Visitors to the Bush-Holley House are able to examine Japonism in Elmer MacRae’s and Childe Hassam’s paintings. Genjiro imported Japanese art which was quite popular at the time and also led classses in Japanese culture such as ikebana (flower-arranging) and the tea ceremony. Genjiro illustrated books by the Japonist Lafcadio Hearn and the poet and novelist Yone Noguchi, whose son is the sculptor Isamu Noguchi. He continued to promote Arita pottery.  He traveled to Philadelphia with the artist Thomas Eakins.  In 1904 married En from Arita and had several children.  Genjiro helped Stewart Curin start the collection of Japanese art at the Brooklyn Museum from 1909-1913.  In 1911 he made his final trip back to Japan amid growing anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States.  He was forced to take a job with the Japanese Postal Communication Museum about 1918 but continued to paint.   In spite of his success in the US, Genjiro was unable to get into the mainstream of Japanese art when he returned. Genjiro contracted tuberculosis and died in 1924.

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