Home of a Foreign [American] Merchant in Yokahama
(Yokohama ijin shokan no zu)
signed Gountei Sadahide ga, with publisher's seal of Sanoki, and censor's date seal Aratame kyu-tori (year of the rooster , 9th month, examined)
oban tate-e triptych 14 5/8 by 30 in., 37.1 by 76.3 cm
In a precursor to the explosion of change to come during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), this scene of a lively gathering of foreigners on the second floor of a mercantile establishment is one of Sadahide's most famous Yokohama compositions. The view is across a verandah towards an dining area partially open to the port with clipper ships in the bay, the red and white stripes of a flag in the upper left corner suggest the occupants are American. In the foreground two foreign gentlemen pause near a western woman playing a stringed instrument similar to a violin but holding it in the manner of a guitar and plucking at its strings with a plectrum as though it were a shamisen. She is accompanied by geisha playing her shamisen while facing away from us. Two courtesans mingle nearby, one wearing a kimono with a red and white star pattern and a blue and white striped over-robe in an inversion of the stars and stripes of the American flag. A Chinese manservant smiles while descending a flight of staris, apparently amused by a foreign boy who is tugging playfully at his queue (braid). In the background a group of foreigners enjoy a dinner party in a room decorated with framed paintings mounted high above the sliding doors with glass panes.
Sadahide designed a related triptych, Picture of Salerooms at a Foreign Merchant's House in Yokohama (Yokohama ijin shokan uriba no zu) that nicely lines up beneath this print, although both triptychs bear slightly different titles indicating that they were also sold separately.
Ann Yonemura, Yokohama: Prints from Nineteenth-Century Japan, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1990, Leonhart Collection, p. 140-141, cat. no. 53
Yokohama Kaikou 150 Shunen Kinen - Yokohama Ukiyo-e - Kindai Nihon wo Hiraku, Kawasaki Isago No Sato Museum, 2009, cat. nos. 61-1 & 61-2 (both triptychs)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Emily Crane Chadbourne Collection, reference no. 1926.1784
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession no. JP3179
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site last updated
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