Yokohama Boomtown Image Gallery / Y0098_Dinner
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Yokohama ijin shōkan zashiki no zu

Title: Picture of a Parlor in a Foreign Mercantile Firm in Yokohama
Artist: Sadahide (1807-ca. 1878)
Format: Woodblock print
Medium: Ink and color on paper
Dimensions: 34.8 x24 cm (13 11/16 x9 7/16 in.)
Source: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

The left panel from an incomplete triptych, this print represents the interior of a Western business establishment in Yokohama; a large ship anchored in the harbor is visible through the glass windows. The details with which Sadahide has depicted the lady's elaborate hat and other accessories of costume reveal that his knowledge of current styles came from study of fashion plates in contemporary Western magazines. Sadahide demonstrates, moreover, an interest in capturing the postures and gestures of the group, all of which contrast markedly with customary Japanese poses. The bearded merchant leans back in his chair with his elbow propped up on the arm. As if to emphasize the variety of novel utensils used for eating, one man is shown holding a stemmed glass and a spoon while his companion opposite holds a fork. With so many problems to resolve in rendering altogether unfamiliar physiognomy, costume, and furniture, it is not surprising to see the artist's slight awkwardness in handling foreshortening, light and shadow, and miscellaneous details, such as the double row of buttons on the black jacket. Sadahide's composition, which disposes the figures around the circular table so that they must be portrayed from various angles is nonetheless effective. The curtain in the foreground accentuates the viewer's impression of peering into an exotic scene. [Adapted from Ann Yonemura, Yokohama: Prints from Nineteenth-Century Japan]

Visualizing Cultures image number: Y0098

Keywords: Westerners, ships, traders, furnishings, food, alcohol, Yokohama, art influences from the West

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