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Asian Art Museum

Sadahide "Japanese Prints"

Sadahide "Japanese Prints"

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From: Asian Art Museum
Limited Edition: 26
Exhibition: A Curious Affair: The Fascination Between East and West
Material: Printed vinyl
Dimensions: 35" x 72" (88cm x 182cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


When Commodore Perry opened Japan to foreigners in 1854, Japanese interest in the West sky-rocketed. There was a fascination that stemmed in part from Japan's centuries of seclusion, and in part from the very different look, style, and customs of Westerners. The Asian Art Museum's exhibition "A Curious Affair: The Fascination between East and West" captured this era, and 26 banners from the show capture the orientalizing style of 19th century Japanese portraits of Westerners.


The arrival of Commodore Perry in Edo Bay (modern Tokyo Bay) in 1853 heralded a new era of commerce and cultural exchange between East and West. Prior to Perry, a policy of national seclusion, sakoku seisaku, had kept out most foreign influence for more than 200 years. Since this was the first exposure most Japanese had to Westerners, it fueled a fascination among Japanese that extended to artists and led to new subjects and styles in their work.

Japanese painter Hashimoto Sadahide (1807 - c. 1878) lived in the Western settlement in the port city of Yokohama. His remarkable landscapes and prints of Western life there were widely reproduced and sold to a Japanese public fascinated with these newcomers. Sadahide did not only paint current views of Westerners in Japan, but often depicted the stories of the few Westerners who had come to Japan in an earlier time. This is especially evident in Sadahide's painting of Mevrouw Cock Blomhoff, a young Dutch bride who came to Japan in 1817 against the wishes of the Japanese authorities. Despite her husband's insistence that she be granted permission to stay, the scandal of a foreign woman's presence during sakoku seisaku forced her return to the Netherlands. She died in 1822 having never again seen her husband.

The banner features a detail of Blomhoff outlined in a quatrefoil shape. The image is taken from Sadahide's Dutch Woman Raising a Wineglass and Caring for a Child and was of special interest to the Japanese because Western women and children were rarely seen. Her necklace would have been particularly intriguing since they were not worn in Japanese society. On a blue background, white text below the image reads "Asian Art Museum", with the dates of the exhibition in yellow "June 17 - Sept 3".

The other side of the banner features a detail of Sadahide's print of American businessman Eugene Van Reed, in a similar quatrefoil frame. Unfamiliar with Western facial features, many Japanese artists of the time created an orientalized style, something clearly seen in this portrait. On the blue background, white text reads "A Curious Affair". At the bottom is the name and logo of the sponsor, "Sponsored by HSBC".


These banners were displayed around San Francisco from June 17 to September 3, 2006 to promote the exhibition A Curious Affair: The Fascination Between East and West at the Asian Art Museum. The exhibition was a highlight of the museum's 40th anniversary celebration

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