Mori Sosen: One Hundred Monkeys



In the present update is a large painting of one hundred monkeys by Mori Sosen (1747-1824). His life is not well documented but he is known to have studied under the Kano artist Yamamoto Joshunsai (? – 1781) before being drawn into Maruyama Okyo’s (1733-1795) artist circle and his style is more Shijo than anything else. His animal paintings were evidently highly valued by Okyo. He was an immediate favourite with eastern collectors because of his monkey paintings and became known for this subject, although he was more versatile than literature implies and highly accomplished at drawing other animals. But his images of monkeys take precedence and he is considered the pre-eminent painter, east or west, on this subject. He is said to have lived in the woods for three years eating fruit and nuts to study the monkeys and other animals at close quarters. (Even if this is apocryphal it underlines the appreciation of his commitment to understanding the monkey.)


This tour de force of one hundred Japanese macaque monkeys shows every conceivable pursuit. They are the most northern-living monkey and can survive extreme cold.

There are many Sosen monkey paintings but few, as here, are genuine.