This is a portrait of the late Edo-period calligrapher, Ichikawa Beian (1779-1857), son of Ichikawa Kansai (1749-1820), a renowned Confucian scholar, poet of classical Chinese, and calligrapher. According to the inscription, written by Beian himself, this portrait was painted on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday in 1838 (Tenpô 9). However, another record indicates that the painting was completed in the previous year, when Watanabe Kazan (1793-1841) was forty-five years old and at the prime of his career.
This portrait and its preliminary sketch, in which Beian's countenances is slightly different, represent two masterpieces by Kazan. According to Edo-period painting discourse, portraiture was meant to express the inner virtue of a person rather than depicting a realistic representation. The idealized portrait of Beian shows that Kazan also followed this tradition.