Top half, written in kanbun 漢文
top right: first character (large) 犀
far left: 寛政壬子仲夏東都毉[variant of 医]官法眼桂川甫周國瑞
This image of a rhinoceros was likely copied from a 1782 sketch by Katsuragawa Hoshū (1751–1809), a physician and scholar of Dutch studies employed by the sixth shogun, Tokugawa Ienobu. Hoshū likely used a version of Albrecht Dürer’s illustration (on view nearby) reproduced in Historiae naturalis (1657), as is evident in the differences between Hoshū’s and Dürer’s versions: Dürer’s calm, closed-mouth rhinoceros has transformed into one that menacingly bears angular teeth in Hoshū’s iteration. Hoshū further emphasizes the fierceness of the animal by using jagged lines along the neck and back, as if it is fully armored. Rather than directly copying Hoshū’s illustration, this Kano artist instead composed his rhinoceros from Hoshū’s written description of the animal. For example, the text mentions that the rhinoceros has reddish-brown skin, which is reflected in the colored pigment applied over the ink.