Portraits of Foreigners: English, French


After nearly two centuries of restricted foreign contact, Japan was increasingly exposed to Western culture in the 1850s as new trade agreements prompted cross-cultural interaction. The influx of unfamiliar technology and customs incited anxiety as well as awe among the Japanese populace, and their strong curiosity is evident in the detailed depictions of foreign subjects by ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) artists. This print, from the series Gaikokujin no zu (Portraits of foreigners), is by Utagawa Yoshitomi (flourished 1850–70), a pupil of the popular ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798–1861). Here he offers his idea of “typical” French and English people: the man on horseback is French and his companion, mounted sidesaddle, is English.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Kiya, Japan


Title in Original Language

外國人之図 イギリス フランス

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 print on hōsho paper : woodcut, color ; 36.2 x 24.5 centimeters (block), 37 x 25 centimeters (sheet)

Last updated: April 2, 2012