Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB

First Companion of the Writing Chamber, Ink

Sadaoka Gakutei, the illegitimate son of a samurai, was a poet and a print designer who specialized in limited-edition surimono, luxurious woodblock prints commissioned on special occasions by private clubs for their members. This print was commissioned by the Ichiyōren poetry group. Originally published as a set of eight—two prints for each “companion”: ink, brush, paper, and ink stone—each print features prominent literary figures in Japan and China linked to an image and poetry with clever word plays and visual associations. In addition to providing literary allusions that tease the intellect, these special edition prints are visually pleasing. Because they were privately funded and made in limited numbers, surimono feature fine pigments, including gold and silver, intaglio printing, and exquisite craftsmanship.

Sadaoka Gakutei
Japanese, 1786 (?)–1868
First Companion of the Writing Chamber, Ink
ca. 1827
Surimono; ink, metallic powders, and color on paper
8 1/4 x 7 1/4 (20.9 x 18.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 70.4.73