Masterpieces of KNM

Portrait of Ichikawa Beian

Portrait of Ichikawa Beian

This portrait is of the well known, late-Edo Period writer, Ichikawa Beian. Beian's father, Kansai, was a famous calligrapher and Confucianist, also known for his Chinese-style poetry.

According to the inscription, written by Beian himself, this portrait was painted on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday in 1838. Another record says the portrait was completed one year earlier.

When he completed this portrait, Watanabe Kazan was a mature, forty-five year-old artist. This work and the accompanying prelimanary sketch are his greatest masterpieces.

There are slight differences between Beian's countenances in the sketch and in the finished painting. The portrait painting tradition of of the day claimed that it was essential to express not only a person's appearence but also his or her inner virtues. It was probably with such principals in mind that Kazan altered the facial expression in the finished painting.

by Watanabe Kazan
Hanging scroll, ink on silk
Proportions: 129.5 x 59.0 cm
Edo Period (dated 1837)
AK 545
Kyoto National Museum

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