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Satō Issai (painted when he became turned fifty)
Important Cultural Property
By Kazan Watanabe
1 hanging scroll
Color on silk
Edo period/Bunsei 4 (1821)
Donated by Yasushi Kawada
Tokyo National Museum
Satō Issai (1772–1859) was an authority on Confucianism: he was an official Confucian teacher of the shogunate and was said to have three thousand disciples. He asked several painters to paint his portrait on occasions that marked the stages of his life. This portrait was made when he turned fifty. Twenty-nine years old Kazan Watanabe (1793–1841), who was a disciple in Confucian study, painted this piece with exceptional care, by starting painting only after drawing well over ten sketches. The fruits of his thorough sketches using Western drawing techniques are shown in the expressions of the face, e.g., the eyes and the mouth. Those are in harmony with the clothes expressed in the traditional Eastern style of painting. The praise pasted on the picture was added by Issai himself three years after this portrait was painted.