Keinen Imao was born in Kyoto and studied classical Japanese painting, calligraphy and printmaking. The upheaval of the transitional phase between the Edo and Meiji eras around 1868 ultimately bankrupted his family business. As a result, Keinen kept himself afloat by making a living as a textile designer. He later founded his own studio and established himself as a painter and printmaker, eventually securing a post as a professor at the Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting in 1888. In 1904, he was appointed as a member of the Art Committee of the Imperial Household, and in 1919 he became a member of the Imperial Art Academy. Keinen specialized in kacho-e, or bird and flower pictures, with naturalistic detail and is best known for Bird and Flower Albums by Keinen (Keinen Kacho Gafu, 1891), a set of 4 volumes with 40 prints each.
No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. - Oscar Wilde