Mori Sosen, Monkeys, a hanging scroll painting

Edo period, AD 1795-1801

Mori Sosen (?1747-1821) is most famous for his paintings of monkeys. In about 1808, at the age of sixty-one, he even changed the first character of his name to one meaning 'monkey'. He also founded a school of animal painting with his brother Shūhō, in Osaka, which parallelled the Maruyama school in Kyoto. Shūhō's son, Tetsuzan went to Kyoto and studied under Maruyama ōkyo (1733-95), and there was considerable interchange between the two schools.

A mother monkey and her baby sit together on a rock beside a blueberry bush. The mother is examining a single fruit that she has just picked, while the young one looks on. The painting shows clearly Sosen's mastery of the depiction of animals. His technical skill is evident: he suggests the soft texture of the animals' coats by meticulously brushing in each individual hair over a background wash. He has also captured the animals' characteristic attitudes and movements with great subtlety and skill.

The signature reads 'Sosen' and the seals read 'Mori Shushō, and 'Sosen'.

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More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

, Hakubutsukan shozō Nihon-Ch (Tokyo National Museum, 1987)

I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-2, vol. 3 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1993)


Height: 1055.000 mm
Width: 385.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP 2500 (1913.5-1.0531)


Arthur Morrison Collection
Gift of Sir W. Gwynne-Evans, Bt.


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