Why is he such an interesting person in the world of Japanese maki-e fountain pens in relation to Namiki Fountain pens?
For many who collect Japanese maki-e lacquer pens, namely Namiki fountain pens, the name is synonymous to a legend who brings the soul of Japanese lacquer to a humble and simple instrument – A fountain pen. It is the late Mr. Gonroku Matsuda who first applied a traditional art form of maki-e onto a cylindrical surface,like a fountain pen, during his short stint in the Namiki Factory between 1925~1926. The late artist had an impressive list of honours under his name.
The following is a summary extract of Gonroku Matsuda’s life, works and honours:
1. 1896 – Born on April 20 in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Ken
2. 1903 – Began studying maki-e with his elder brother Kosaku
3. 1914 – Graduated from the Ishikawa Prefectural Industrial School and began study at the lacquer department of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts
4. 1919 – Graduated from Tokyo School of Fine Arts
5. 1924 – Displayed for the first time in the 11th Noten Exhibition and won second prize
6. 1926 – Began works on lacquerware at the Namiki Factory
7. 1927 – Resigned from Namiki and remained as an advisor to the firm. He became an assistant professor at Tokyo School of Fine arts and participated in the 8th Teiten Exhibition and subsequently exhibited every year.
8. 1928 – Made lacquer interior decorations for two Japanese ships.
9. 1929 – Received honorable mention in the 10th Teiten Exhibition.
10. 1930 – Nominated to the Imperial Art Academy
11. 1947 – Became a member of the Imperial Art Academy
12. 1955 – Designated holder of an important intangible cultural property (maki-e).
13. 1962 – Became chairman of the Japan Crafts Association
14. Published a book entitled Urushi no Hanashi (The Tale of Lacquer)
15. 1974- Awarded a Second class order of the Sacred Treasure
16. 1976 – Awarded an Order of Cultural Merit
17. 1978 – Held a one-man exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo A distinguished artist who had dedicated his entire life to the traditional art of Japanese lacquer.
He was a dedicated person in the preservation and protection of old works of art and to education in traditional crafts. His works are by no means limited to lacquer but he had earned the profound respect of many of his countrymen as one of the most important figures in the history of Japanese maki-e lacquer art.
After briefly turning his hand to the production of export lacquerware at the Namiki Factory, at the age of thirty one, he returned to the Tokyo School of Fine Arts to begin teaching that lasted until he was sixty seven. After retirement, he began putting to use his accumulated knowledge and skill in creating strongly original lacquer vessels.
He and others who share his belief in the necessity of revitalizing traditions in modern terms formed the Japan Crafts Association in 1955. Gonroku Matsuda remains active till his eighties. A decorated, distinguished artist who had created a legacy of collectors worldwide who were so much enchanted by his dedication and development in Japanese maki-e lacquer works on a fountain pen.