A monkey scratching himself

Artist: Attributed to Mori Sosen (1747-1821)
Historical period(s)
19th or 20th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (overall): 104.4 x 38.5 cm (41 1/8 x 15 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

Japan, kakemono, monkey

To 1904
Michael Tomkinson (1841-1921), Kidderminster, England, to 1904 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Michael Tomkinson in 1904 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono Reserved List, T. 133, pg. 31, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Michael Tomkinson (C.L. Freer source) 1841-1921
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Signed on the lower left "Sosen (Ancestor-Immortal)" and followed by an oval relief seal "Shusho (or Morikata)," the painting has been attributed to Mori Sosen, an artist of the late Edo period who is best known for his monkey paintings. In this scroll, a single monkey and a cluster of plants are painted against a neutral background. The monkey squats on the ground, and picks fleas. However, the typical Sosen subject is not imbued with the lively form of the wild creatures that is characteristic of representative works by this artist. Details such as the eyes of the monkey are rendered with deliberation but they do not focus on the animal's hands as they should to emphasize the concentrated attention of the itching monkey. Paintings of monkeys attributed to Sosen are numerous. Many of them, like this work, are of questionable authenticity. This painting may be a work of the 20th century.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
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