A chance to think through how the visual impact of text, image, and text with image.


Accession Number


Kameda Bōsai

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
ink on silk

43 1/4 in x 13 11/16 in (109.86 cm x 34.77 cm);2 15/16 in x 20 15/16 in x 2 7/8 in (7.46 cm x 53.18 cm x 7.3 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase, Acquisition Fund

Label copy
Winter 2015 Gallery Rotation
An influential Confucian scholar, Kameda Bôsai was a versatile intellectual who excelled at calligraphy, painting, and poetry. Bôsai ran a successful school in Edo (present day Tokyo) until the 1790s, when the Tokugawa shogunate’s reforms suppressed much of the capital’s intellectual life and forced him to shut it down. After that, Bôsai retired to a suburb of Edo, devoting himself to travel and artistic and literary production, writing prefaces for his friends’ publications, and executing calligraphy and paintings upon request. He was revered as a true literati (amateur scholar-artist): in the ranking of Edo literati published in 1817, he was at the top, and his income from commissions was equal to that of star kabuki actors such as Ichikawa Danjûrô IIV (1791–1859), an enthusiastic fan of Bôsai’s work.
This calligraphy of a short Chinese poem was done when Bôsai was seventy-two, three years before his death. Bosai was known for his wild, almost illegible cursive style and for writing while drunk. By the time of this calligraphy, however, Bôsai was unable to move the left side of his body due to a stroke; the soft cursive writing seen here was probably due to his inability to put much pressure on his brush. Still, it is clear that despite his lack of force, Bosai has great control, as each brush stroke is strongly expressive and the characters are perfectly aligned.

Subject matter
This calligraphy of a short Chinese poem was done when Bôsai was seventy-two, three years before his death.

Physical Description
A long hanging scroll with stamps in the top right and middle left of the scroll. The five lines of characters are very shaky.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
hanging scroll

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area

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.


1 Related Resource

Japan Pax Tokugawa 1600-1868
(Part of: Empires and Colonialism)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted