Picture of Flourishing America


After nearly two centuries of restricted foreign contact, Japan became increasingly exposed to Western culture in the 1850s as new trade agreements prompted cross-cultural interaction. The influx of unfamiliar technology and customs gave rise to anxiety as well as awe among the Japanese people, whose curiosity about the external world is evident in the detailed depictions of foreign subjects by ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) artists. The sources of these depictions were not only eyewitness accounts, but also borrowed imagery from secondary material, such as engravings in Western journals and newspapers. Even though the title of this triptych print by Utagawa Hiroshige II refers to “flourishing America,” the architecture depicted can be traced to an illustration of Fredericksburg Castle (near Copenhagen, Denmark) in the March 7, 1860, issue of the Illustrated London News. Hiroshige II (circa 1842–94) was the pupil and adopted son of the great landscape master, Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858).

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Yamajin (Yamashiroya Jinbei), Japan


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1 print on hōsho paper (3 sheets) : woodcut, color ; each block 35.5 x 24.5 centimeters; each sheet 35.5 x 24.5 centimeters


  • From series entitled: Images of the western world.

Last updated: September 18, 2015