Born in Nagoya City, SABURI moved to Tokyo in 1915. He entered the Tokyo School of Fine Arts through the KAWABATA Art School, and graduated from there in 1922. He became a member of the Hakujitsu-kai, and exhibited his works at the Kofu-kai Exhibition. In 1927, SABURI went to France, and came back in 1930. The next year, he went to France again, and studied the Dutch painters, Spanish painters, and also Gustave COURBET to reach the realism. In 1923, he came back to Japan. SABURI was mainly active in the Tei-ten. In 1935, he painted the wall painting of a hall in the Toho Theater. The next year, he hung himself in Tokyo. After his death, the SABURI Award is established by funds of SABURI to encourage fresh Western-style painters.
This is a picture with skillful compositional exploitation of light-and-shade contrasts – as one would expect from a painter who revered Rembrandt. More prominent than anything, however, is the presence of two anonymous old men of the city populace. The picture was painted during Saburi’s residence in Paris. He took it with him on a brief visit back to Japan, and in the following year it was put on show at the Imperial Academy Exhibition, where it won the gold medal. This is the milestone work that shot him to fame.