Yokohama Boomtown Image Gallery / Y0163_AmericanBalloons
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Title: America
Artist: Yoshitora (fl. ca. 1850-80)
Format: Woodblock print
Medium: Ink and color on paper
Dimensions: triptych: 37.4 x75.4 cm (14 3/4 x29 11/16 in.)
Source: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

The text reads: What they call the balloon is like a steamship that flies. It is the foremost conveyance of foreign nations. In June 1860 two gas balloons displaying the flags of the United States, Japan, and Great Britain were launched from Philadelphia to be flown from New York to celebrate the opening of Japan. One of the balloons, called the Constitution, was illustrated in Futayo gatari, the diary published in 1861 of Katō Somō, one of the members of the Japanese mission that witnessed the launch; later Japanese prints of balloons, including this one, frequently depended on that illustration or one of its derivations. The architecture rendered here appears to be based not on pictures of America but of India, specifically buildings in Agra (see Y0160). Japanese artists, confused about localities of architecture portrayed in Western illustrations, often produced incongruous representations of foreign lands. [Adapted from Ann Yonemura, Yokohama: Prints from Nineteenth-Century Japan]

Visualizing Cultures image number: Y0163

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