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Monkey Climbing a Tree

Accession Number
1986/2.61.2

Title
Monkey Climbing a Tree

Artist(s)
Mori Sosen

Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1807-1821

Medium & Support
ink on paper

Dimensions
78 1/2 in x 28 1/2 in (199.39 cm x 72.39 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by a gift from Helmut Stern

Label copy
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
A monkey climbs up a tree, grasping at the branches with his hands and feet. The image uses soft colors, and the monkey almost appears to be leaning or falling away from the tree. The top right corner appears gray. This is a pair with 1986/2.61.1.

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Primary Object Type
hanging scroll

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
ink
monkeys (animals)
pine (wood)
trees

3 Related Resources

Ink and Realisms
(Part of: Artist Associations and Art Movements)
Japan Pax Tokugawa 1600-1868
(Part of: Empires and Colonialism)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved