Rosetsu, along with Soga Shohaku and Ito Jakuchu, was at the cutting edge of his times. The three were known as the "Three Eccentrics,” which meant painting in a highly individualistic manner, but was also related to character. Rosetsu, for example, was known as something of an argumentative hothead and his behavior and excessive drinking are part of the background that adds to the enjoyment of his pictures.
The son of a low-ranking samurai, he decided early on to study with Maruyama Okyo in Kyoto, but soon opened his own studio, discarded his teacher’s careful realism, and went on to become a pioneer of modernist expressionism. He died on an outing to Osaka at the age of only forty-six—some say an envious rival put poison in his boxed lunch. Others tell of him slitting his throat due to financial troubles. What is certain is that he was unusually confident and relished novelty, with a streak of vulgarity. He was quick-witted, versatile and had exceptional technical skill.
Rosetsu creates mischievous, comical birds and beasts with attitude and character.