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Russian ship. Putyatin. - A Bunkindo woodcut of a supposedly Russian ship.

Nagasaki, Bunkindo 1853? Coloured (by stencil or hand?) woodcut on brown paper, 25x37cm. Minor rumpling. ¶ This presumably is one of Putyatin's ships that arrived in Nagasaki in August 1853 in attempt to match any treaty Perry managed to force on Japan. Like most of these hurried prints produced to capitalise on such dramatic occurrences old, sometimes ancient, woodcuts were dusted off and reworked. In this case it's clear that a Dutch ship has been rebranded Russian. Russian enough: there are still Dutch flags flying. This saved a lot of mucking about, sending an artist down to draw each ship. Few customers would ever see the actual boat. The British Museum has a more expected Nagasaki print which I swear is from the same block, with text and a crudely added vignette. That text labels it a Dutch ship - "Hollandsche Schip" even though flags have been made Russian. I'd guess the block cutter couldn't read that bit and left it alone. I'm yet to find the original - all Dutch - print and I'm not sure it matters. It was likely adapted from another print anyway. The grandfather of this print, as far as I'm aware, is the print of the Dutch ship Shellach from 1782 and Bunkindo published 'Hollandsche Schip' prints galore drawn from that Shellach print. There is no text but Bunkindo's seal, lower left. Bunkindo were prolific publishers of Nagasaki prints of things foreign from the late 18th century into the 1850s. I wonder whether the band on deck playing large twirling horns was an improvement introduced for Koops' arrival in 1844 when Bunkindo went to town with prints showing the visiting band's French horns. I also wonder if the paper here as been dyed with persimmon juice, it's certainly persimmon colour. Books expected to be used a lot - like a lending library - were often dipped in persimmon juice to strengthen the edges of the paper but I've never seen another c19th print on brown paper like this. My guess is that Bunkindo were looking for ways to brighten up a well thrashed image. This is not a beautiful print. It's no triumph of Japanese craftsmanship but it is an intriguing example of the souvenir industry that thrived in Nagasaki for Japanese tourists.
AUD 475.00 [Appr.: EURO 286.25 US$ 304.24 | £UK 247.25 | JP¥ 45133] Book number 10229

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