Persistent controversy surrounds the signature of “Sori.” The lineage of this go, or artist name, is considered as follows: Sori I is the Rinpa painter Tawaraya Sori, Hokusai is Sori II, and Soji, Hokusai’s pupil, is Sori III.
Surimono of the late 1790s signed “Sori” are difficult to attribute. During this period, Sori III’s work closely resembles that of Hokusai. The combination of matching signatures and similar style require scholars to consider zodiac allusions and stylistic analysis for distinction. While Hokusai’s fluid lines create animated compositions, Sori III’s surimono are marked by a greater sense of formality. Yet, these veiled references to date are not always present and stylistic analyses often deviate amongst scholars.
Hokusai first adopted the name “Sori” in 1794, following his studies in the Tawaraya school. Though he adopted the name “Hokusai” in 1797, he continued to use “Sori,” whether alone or combined with other names, until around 1798 (though there is still some debate on this date). At this time, Hokusai ceased use of the “Sori” signature, handing down the name “Hishikawa Sori” to Soji, one his early pupils. Soji then became Sori III and flourished from the end of the 18th century through the first decade of the 19th century. Sori III was followed by two further generations of artists using the name “Sori.”