Yoshiiku Utagawa, The Americans, Illustration of Foreign People
Artist: Yoshiiku Utagawa (1833-1904)
Title: The Americans
Series title: Illustration of Foreign People
Publisher: Maruya Tetsujiro
Size: 36.8 x 25.3 cm
Original Japanese woodblock print.
Western culture proved a constant fascination to Japanese woodblock artists. The limited contact with the West imposed by the Japanese regime in the Edo period created endless curiosity that artists were eager to satisfy, although the situations they imagined were sometimes far from being accurate. It is evident from these prints that the Japanese were fascinated by the clothing, the strange habits and the occupations of the foreigners.
Throughout the Edo Period (1603 - 1868), Japan adopted a sakoku (closed country) policy. Sakoku was a system in which strict regulations were placed on commerce and foreign relations by the shogunate and certain feudal domains. Trade was limited, except for the port of Nagasaki where the Dutch and Chinese were the only ones allowed to operate. In 1859 the port of Yokohama was opened to foreigners, and ukiyo-e artists, primarily of the Utagawa school, produced hundreds of woodblock print designs in response to a general curiosity about strangers.
|Print Format||Oban (Vertical)|
|Artist Name||Yoshiiku Utagawa|
|Dimensions||36.8 x 25.3 cm|
|Condition Report||Restored bottom corner, small creases, minor water stains and pigment spots.|
Born the son of teahouse proprietor Asakusa Tamichi in 1833, Yoshiiku became a student of ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi toward the end of the 1840s. His earliest known work dates to 1852 when he provided the backgrounds to some actor prints by his master. Yoshiiku's earliest works were portraits of actors, beauties, and warriors. He later followed Kuniyoshi into making satirical and humorous pieces, and became the leading name in the field after Kuniyosh's death in 1861.