Ike Taiga was one of the towering figures in Kyoto painting of the mid-eighteenth century. A child prodigy at calligraphy, he learned Chinese poetry and philosophy through his friendships with Confucian scholars and the Ôbaku Zen monks of Manpukuji. Since Chinese literati paintings were then still scarce in Japan, his models were taken from woodblock printed books. James Cahill has argued that Taiga’s “pointillist” style, which separates brushstrokes into distinct units with little use of wash, probably derives from the technical limitations of his printed sources.For Taiga and his contemporary, Yosa Buson, Chinese literati painting provided fresh inspiration and a validation of a certain lifestyle—one devoted to the study of letters and the cultivation the mind. Taiga fit to a “T” the ideal of the untrammeled spirit: he was careless about money, often almost slovenly in appearance, and frequently tipsy—but also generous, entertaining, and a brilliant artist.