skip to Main Content

. . . is for Unsen

Unsen (1753 -1827), Japanese
“Mountain Recluses” 1792

Hanging scroll, ink on paper
161.9 x 40 cm. (63 3/4 x 15 3/4 in.)

“On the twenty-third day of the second month of the year 1792 during the Kansei era, painted after drinking while at a feast at Kikyu’s Green Bamboo Dwellng, Unsen.”

Artist’s seals:
Taishu; Seisen ( “Listening Immortal”)

Kuahiro Unsen was born in Shimabara in Hizen province but moved to Nagasaki where he studied directly with Chinese artists then resident there. That experience led also to Unsen’s unusual ability to speak Chinese, a skill rare enough that it was remarked upon by his contemporaries. He lived in the Kansai area for a time where the style of Ike Taiga (1723-1776) one of the great masters of the previous generation, had great impact. The present landscape was most likely produced at that time. An amusing story that gives insight into Unsen’s personality runs as follows. “Unsen and his friend Okubo Shibutsu were invited to display their respective talents in a joint work of art. Unsen first painted a landscape and then Shibutsu began to inscribe a poem on the scroll; Unsen, however, quietly rolled up his painting, saying: ‘Your poem is good for now, while my painting is good for the future, so please do not write on it.’”

Back To Top