September 2005

News of the West: Prints from Nagasaki and Yokohama

September 21—30, 2005

This fall Sebastian Izzard LLC presented News of the West: Prints from Nagasaki and Yokohama, an exhibition documenting the arrival of Europeans and Americans in Japan. The port of Nagasaki, open to Dutch and Chinese traders exclusively from the late 1630s onwards, saw a small print industry develop which employed exotic images of the Dutch traders, their Indonesian servants, and Chinese merchants and their ships, in addition to the occasional Russian and English naval vessels that arrived in Nagasaki in the hope of trade. The exhibition featured a small number of these rare prints.

The close proximity of the capital Edo a few miles to the North, meant that Yokohama, founded in 1859 following the various treaties signed by the Shogunate with the Western powers, was soon the source of exciting new material for the popular print market of the city.

Personal observation and the use of pictorial publications such as the Illustrated London News and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper as additional source material, allowed Japanese artists of the dominant Utagawa School to give their audience lively accounts of the newly arrived foreigners, their manners and customs, their industrial inventions, and the countries from which they came.

The result was a profusion of well observed and colorful images, in single sheets, triptychs, and illustrated books.