Bears (Kuma no zu)

Late Meiji era
about 1907–08
Nishimura Goun (Japanese, 1877–1938)


Image: 153.7 x 357.5 cm (60 1/2 x 140 3/4 in.) Overall (Including mounting): 170 x 373.4 cm (66 15/16 x 147 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

One of a pair of six-panel folding screens; ink and color on paper

Not On View





In the first decades of the twentieth century the grand halls of the government-sponsored Ministry of Education exhibitions displayed a new type of Japanese painting (Nihonga). Preserving the ink and mineral pigments of traditional works, these paintings were monumental in scale, responding to the fashion set by European academic compositions. In style the pieces incorporated time-honored brush techniques, but they were also informed by western conventions of rendering space, light, and atmosphere. Dramatically many took the new modern Japan as their subject. This pair of screens contrasts the native Japanese brown bear with imported polar bears, which had been recently installed at the Kyoto Municipal Zoo.


Fall 2006, acquired from Private Collection, Tokyo by Kagedo Japanese Art, Seattle, WA; 2007, sold by Kagedo Japanese Art to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. (Accession Date: December 12, 2007)

Credit Line

Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund and Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously