Portrait of the 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, created in 1861, is by Utagawa Yoshikazu (flourished 1848–63), one of the foremost pupils of the popular ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798–1861). It portrays French people in a scene of daily life, with a woman seated before a mirror applying makeup, while a man stands waiting for her and watching from a doorway on the right.

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Maruya Jinpachi, Japan


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Physical Description

1 print on hōsho paper : woodcut, color ; 33.2 x 22.4 centimeters (block), 36.5 x 24.8 centimeters (sheet)

Last updated: March 9, 2012