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Monkeys by a Waterfall

Mori Sosen

Artwork Details

Monkeys by a Waterfall
1807-1821
Mori Sosen
ink on paper
6 ft. 6 9/16 in. x 28 1/2 in. (199.55 x 72.39 cm); ;
Museum purchase made possible by a gift from Helmut Stern
1986/2.61.1

On Display

Not currently on display

Description

Mori Sosen
Japan, ca. 1747–1821
Monkeys by a Waterfall (right)
Monkey Climbing a Tree (left)
Edo period (1615–1868)
1807–21
Pair of hanging scrolls, ink and color on paper
Museum purchase made possible by a gift from Helmut Stern,
1986/2.61.1 and 2

In this pair of hanging scrolls, Mori Sosen depicts three monkeys
by a waterfall in the mountains. In the scroll on the right, a
small monkey sits next to a larger monkey, absorbed in the task
of grooming. The larger monkey looks toward a young monkey
climbing a tall tree in the scroll on the left. Through this motherly
gaze, the artist skillfully unifies a representation of motion and of
quiet watchfulness.

Mori Sosen was one of the most prominent painters of the Shijō
school, known for a painting style that emphasized the careful
study of nature. His detailed, realistic depictions suggest he had a
profound knowledge of monkey anatomy, likely acquired through
close observation. He was often called “monkey painter” because
of his frequent portrayals of the subject. This pair of scrolls was
painted after he turned sixty and changed the first character of
his name from “ancestor” to “monkey” (the two characters are
pronounced the same way).

Summer 2023 Gallery Rotation 
__________

In this pair of hanging scrolls, Mori Sosen depicts three monkeys by a waterfall in the mountains. In the scroll on the right, a small monkey sits next to a larger monkey, absorbed in the task of grooming. The larger monkey appears to look anxiously toward the young monkey climbing a tall tree in the scroll on the left. Through this motherly gaze, Mori Sosen skillfully unifies a representation of motion and of quiet watchfulness.
 
One of the most prominent painters of the Shijō school, which was known for a painting style that emphasized the careful study of nature, Mori Sosen was often called a “monkey painter” because of his frequent portrayals of the subject. His detailed, realistic depictions suggest he had a profound knowledge of the animal’s anatomy, likely acquired through observation. Sosen’s works were highly coveted in his native city of Osaka. This pair of scrolls was painted after he turned sixty and changed the first character of his name from “ancestor” to “monkey” (the two written characters are pronounced the same way).
 
Fall rotation 2016.

Subject Matter:

One of the most prominent painters of the Shijō school, which was known for a painting style that emphasized the careful study of nature, Mori Sosen was often called a “monkey painter” because of his frequent portrayals of the subject. His detailed, realistic depictions suggest he had a profound knowledge of the animal’s anatomy, likely acquired through observation. Sosen’s works were highly coveted in his native city of Osaka. This pair of scrolls was painted after he turned sixty and changed the first character of his name from “ancestor” to “monkey” (the two written characters are pronounced the same way).

Physical Description:

Two monkeys are seen at the base of a waterfall. They are painted in soft shades of gray and sit among plants. The monkey on the right fidgets with its hands, while the other looks over its shoulder at the waterfall. This is a pair with 1986/2.61.2.

Usage Rights:

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