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Drawing of the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, 1929

Drawing of the Imperial Hotel Tokyo 1929

This watercolour by the acclaimed 20th-century British perspective artist Cyril Arthur Farey (1888-1954) is one of over 25 in the RIBA Library’s holdings and the only original drawing representing Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (1916-1923, demolished in 1968). Created in 1929, the image was reproduced as the frontispiece for the first issue of 'Architectural Design' (1930). Contrasting light and dark colours – a hallmark of Farey’s rendering technique – create depth and texture, while the overall composition captures the decorative modernity of Wright’s entrance courtyard design with its innovative combination of carved lava 'oya' stone, reinforced concrete, and brick. Farey’s inclusion of rickshaws, 'kimono' clad visitors, and blossoming cherry trees are whimsical conceits suggesting its Japanese context.

Image: Drawing of the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan, 1929; image from RIBApix (number RIBA12143)
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Artist: Cyril Arthur Farey
Credit: RIBA Collections

Article by Kurt Helfrich, RIBA
30 January 2015

Discover more

This is just one of over four million items in our world-class architectural collections at the RIBA Library – it's open to everyone and access is free. Visit the library to explore our collections of books, periodicals, drawings, photographs and models:

  1. Drawings
    Collection of drawings by Cyril Arthur Farey, 1888-1954, including a perspective of the courtyard facade, Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, 1929 [DR53/8].
    Call/Ref. no. FAREY [located at the V&A]
  2. Periodical article
    Architectural Design & Construction (renamed Architectural Design after December 1946).
    November 1930. Vol.1, no.1, frontispiece
  3. Book
    Farey, C., and Edwards, A. T., 1949.
    'Architectural drawing, perspective & rendering : a handbook for students and draughtsmen'
    London: Batsford
    Shelved at 72.064 // FAR [77PP]
  4. Book
    Stamp, G., 1982.
    'The great perspectivists'
    London: Trefoil
    Shelved at 72.064:742.03(41/42) // STA [Reference]

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