The Lure of the West European Elements in the Art of the Floating World

The rarestsuch image in the collection howeveris not

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Unformatted text preview: inary iews of Western c capital ities. The rarestsuch image in the collection, however,is not a printbut a painting.Heretofore unpublished,this hangingscroll is entitled Portrait of a Dutchman with a Servant (fig. 6). Executedin ink andcolorson paper,it depicts a well-dressed Dutchman accompanied by a servantholding an umbrella over his master's head. The style of the Dutchman'sclothingandwig help us datethis work to sometime between 175oand 1770. Such painted works are extremelyrare,and this is the only exampleknown to this authorin an American museum collection. Comparison with similar images in woodblock prints a suggeststhat the servantis Indonesian; similar figure in a print in the museum'scollection is labeledas a nativeof Sarawak.9hough T this rarepainting has been catalogued as an anonymous work, the scroll actually bears two nearlyillegibleseals of the painter,which w may prove decipherable ith future scrutiny and research. 82 MuseumStudies This content downloaded from on Sun, 29 Sep 2013 20:18:18 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions LITTLE By the lastdecadesof the eighteenthcentury, the Nagasaki publisher Bunkind6 was producing very fine woodblock prints specializingin imagesof both Europeansandthe magnificent ships in which they sailed to Japan. One of the outstanding examples of this type in the museum's collection is entitled Cassowary(fig. 7).1oThe titleat the top of the print,"Kaswaars," the Dutch transliteris ation of cassowary, a bird indigenous to Australia and New Guinea.In this print, we see a Dutchman, his young servant,and the remarkablebird, which would have been a completenovelty in Japan.The long Japanese descriptionof the bird ends by statingthat a cassowarywas brought to Japanby a Dutch THE embassy.Images of foreignerstogether with unfamiliar nimalsand birds continuedto be a for many decades,and proliferated produced after 1854, when the American commodore Matthew CalbraithPerry'ssecond embassy impelled Japan to open its borders to all Western ations. n Since, between 1635and i86o, the Japanese were forbiddenon pain of deathto travel t overseas,their naturalcuriosityregarding he lands from which Europeanscame was partially satisfied by fantasticviews of Europe, suppliedby such Ukiyo-e artistsas Utagawa founderof the Utagawa Toyoharu(1735-1814), of Ukiyo-e artistsand a masterof the lineage perspective print. Toyoharu may well have LURE OF THE WEST FIGURE 10 Kitao Masayoshi (KuwagataKeisai, 1764-1824). Ryogoku Bridge in Edo: Enjoying the Evening Cool, 1790/1800. Color woodblock print; 33 x 44.1 cm. Clarence Buckingham Collection, 1939.167. MuseumStudies 83 This content downloaded from on Sun, 29 Sep 2013 20:18:18 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions LITTLE THE LURE 11 FIGURE Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825). The Upper Floor of the House of Cloves, c. 1789. Color woodblock triptych print; 38.6 x 76.4 cm. Clarence Buckingham Collection, 1939.2139. OF THE WEST f found his inspiration or this genrein Kyoto, where he studied before moving to Edo in 1763. In the Horeki reign-period (1751-63), the Kyoto artist MaruyamaOkyo was well known for his megane-e ("glasses- i.e.,lens-] [ or perspectiveprints designedfor pictures"), use with a special iewingbox, or optique(first v from the West),which lent threeimported dimensionality to the image (see fig. 20). These becamewildly popular, nd must have a madea greatimpressionon Toyoharu.From i the 1770sto the 790osn Edo, Toyoharucreated many superbuki-e that took advantage of the new multiblock color-printing process perfected by Harunobu. One of the rarestprints in the Art Institute'scollection is Toyoharu's Scene of a Canal in Holland (fig. 8), which can be dated to the 1770s.11 The precise source of this strange image is unknown.12Thatfiguresareswimmingin the canal, however,suggests a degree of artistic licensewhichis fully characteristic prints of of foreign lands, since the Japanese assumed (wrongly) that the Dutch went swimmingin their canals.Toyoharu created a number of views of Europe, as well as imaginaryviews of China. Japanese print designers often mixed European and Chinese architectural styles, as Toyoharudid here.Sinceboth were exotic-indeed virtually unknowableto the average apanese-their combinationwould J not have been recognized as incongruous. Such prints claimed to present real views of real places far from Japan, and their claims were accepted. Toyoharualso used perspectiveprints to illustrate mythological tales and ghost stories. One of the best-preserveduki-e in the museum's collection is Toyoharu's Newly PublishedPerspective icture:The TangGate P at the Palace of the Dragon King, datableto the 1780s (fig. 9). Here the Dragon King's i palace,which recedes dramatically n space, is depicted in a Chinese architecturalstyle. 84 MuseumStudies This content downloaded from on Sun, 29 Sep 2013 20:18:18 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions LITTLE THE LURE OF THE WEST 12 FIGURE Katsushika...
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