[Edo]: Kobayashi Tetsujiro (Maruya Tetsujiro), 1861. Broadsheet (365 x 25 mm) printed pochoir. The censor seal date is 1861.02. The artist signed his name: "Ikkeisai Yoshiiku ga" (in the woodcut). Margins repaired with Japanese tissue, small stamp on verso in lower left corner, ten small wormholes of which four can be discerned in the figures depicted. Very good. Item #3603
Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904), a.k.a. Ikkeisai Yoshiiku, prolific Japanese printmaker and illustrator who designed a wide variety of prints, including depictions of beautiful women (bijin), warriors (musha), actors (yakusha), and "foreigners" (as here). Our print is dated 1861 and is therefore a relatively early depiction of a European in popular iconography: as is well known, in 1853 American Commodore Matthew Perry led his four ships into the harbor at Tokyo Bay, seeking to re-establish for the first time in over 200 years regular trade and discourse between Japan and the western world; however, it took years for Japan's "isolation" to wane (the opening of Yokohama and three other port cities occurred in 1859). Popular prints such as ours mirror this new "foreign" presence, and reflect Japanese intense curiosity.
In our print, a fashionably-attired Dutchman, sporting a cane, regards a stylish (Japanese?) woman wearing Western clothes. The text reads: "[Holland] a large country in the continent of Europe. Since it is midway to the equator, the five grains flourish. A country of laws, its people all study the medical arts and are also skilled at gunnery. It is said that they act righteously and highly esteem politeness."
We are grateful to Matthew Fraleigh for his translation and research.