Height: 228.000 mm
Width: 195.000 mm (cover)
Asia JA JP ADD1032 (1993.12-20.01)
Kawahara Keiga (attributed to), Genre scenes, paintings
Edo period, about AD 1800-25
In a Western-influenced style
These paintings come from a group of seventeen Japanese works in an unusual Western-influenced style. They were probably intended for export. Although the works are unsigned, this particular style is known only in the works of Kawahara Keiga (1786-after 1859). He had access to Europeans living on the artificial island of Deshima in Nagasaki harbour, and in the 1820s was commissioned by the collector Philip Franz von Siebold and others to execute many Japanese scenes. The paintings feature domestic and street scenes including sumō wrestlers, a priest, many children, and (unusually) beggars.
One example shows the upstairs room of a brothel. A courtesan stands in the foreground, wearing a red outer kimono, an obi (sash) with a chrysanthemum design and a blue robe over these. The bright colours of her clothing stand out in contrast against the pale colours of the walls and floor. Both the careful, geometrical perspective of the room and the precise description of the figures show the influence of Western technique, and suggest a high degree of contact with foreigners.
The paintings come from a scrapbook assembled by Lady Henrietta Jane Seymour (1809-90), daughter of the 11th Duke of Somerset. It also contains nine south Indian miniatures and nineteen European works (fashion and topographical prints, amateur sketches, etc.).