Tomita Keisen's blend of traditional Japanese styles within the framework of a highly individualistic outlook earned him the reputation of being unconventional, a characterization that has persisted in modern criticism.
Born the fifth son of a noodle manufacturer in Hakata (present-day Fukuoka) in 1879, Keisen's interest in painting began early. At the age for twelve, Keisen began studying Kano-school painting with Kinugasa Tankoku. Keisen also worked with another local artist, Ueda Tekko. During this period, Keisen first saw the works of Sengai Gibon, a Zen monk known for his whimsical painting style, who had lived at Hakata's Shofukuji Temple during his final years. Sengai's work held a lifelong fascination for Keisen, although this interest did not manifest itself stylistically until late in his career.
Both the painting and the original box are signed and sealed by the artist. - Title on the painting: Koshin Kongo, inscription on the box: Sansaru-zu.
Tomita Keisen (1879-1936)
Ink on paper
136.7 x 32.6 (53 3/4 x 12 3/4 in.)
Mounting: 197.5 x 48 cm (77 3/4 x 19 in)
Original box (tomobako)