Kubota Beisen and others, Myriad Fish, a handscroll painting


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

This scroll is a collaborative work, with thirty-three pictures by twelve different artists. Kubota Beisen (1852-1906) painted ten; Imao Keinen (1845-1924) and Suzuki Shōnen (1849-1918) painted five and four respectively, and Shōnen's father, Suzuki Hyakunen (1825-91) painted one. Although the remaining parts are all signed, little is known about the other artists involved.

The four painters mentioned above were all teachers at the Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting. This had been founded in 1880 by Beisen and the artist Kōno Bairei (1844-95). Beisen, Keinen, and Shōnen had all trained under Hyakunen, and it is possible that other contributors to the scroll were also former pupils. As Shōnen became a teacher at the school in 1886, and his father died only five years later, this would seem to narrow down the likely date of the production of the scroll.

The large fish to the left is a sea-bream (J: tai), with the signature 'Keinen sha' ('Painted by Keinen') and the seal 'Keinen'. The other signatures (from right to left) are 'Beisen', with seal 'Gyoson ga in' ('Painting-seal of Gyoson'), 'Kyūko' with seal 'Kyūko', 'Mokusen' with seal 'Kan'yō', and 'Chikusen' with seal 'Chikusen'.


  • Title: Kubota Beisen and others, Myriad Fish, a handscroll painting
  • Date Created: 1870/1873
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 30.30cm; Length: 679.10cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: fish
  • Registration number: 1991,0701,0.1
  • Production place: Made in Japan
  • Producer: Painted by Suzuki Shonen. Painted by Sakurai Hyakurei. Painted by Imao Keinen. Painted by Suzuki Hyakunen. Painted by Nishida Chikusen. Painted by Shodo. Painted by Izawa Kyuko. Painted by Mokusen. Painted by Rankei. Painted by Hyakusui. Painted by Hishida Nitto
  • Period/culture: Meiji Era
  • Material: paper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Kruml, Richard

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