Stock ID #157329
Collection of five funpon 粉本 or artists' sketches by Kitajima Tōen in ink on Japanese paper. Sheet sizes vary:
Sketch of a Chinese Merchant and his Wife. Neat notes on the woman's clothing indicate the colours of her clothes. Small red ink stains. Signed with chop. 53 x 39cm.
Sketch of a Dutch Sea Captain. Signed with chop. 24.5 x 23cm. On this sketch the artist has written "shitae 下画 [preliminary sketch]” which indicates he intended to produce a painting with using this image in the near future.
Sketch of a Chinese Merchant. Some highlights in an ochre coloured ink. 39.5 x 27cm. Signed with chop.
Sketch of a Chinese Merchant Reading. 34 x 12cm.
Sketch of a Dutchman's Servant. 33.5 x 12.5cm.
An interesting collection in good condition. Funpon 粉本 or artists' sketches were used by Japanese artists as references for future works. As Japanese artists rarely worked from life, artists would collect as many funpon as possible so when called upon to paint a picture of a particular subject they would have images from which to work from, in a manner similar to building a reference library. We have not found a reference to the artist who made these sketches, Kitajima Tōen 北島桃園. It seems likely he was a minor artist in Nagasaki who had observed the Dutch and Chinese merchants and would likely have received commissions to paint scenes depicting foreigners. These sketches were almost certainly based on earlier Japanese paintings showing Chinese and Dutch merchants.
The sketches in this group depict a Dutch Sea Captain and Chinese merchants reflecting the situation in Japan at the time. In the Edo period, only the Dutch and Chinese were allowed to trade with Japan in Nagasaki. The Chinese merchants lived in the Chinese quarter in Nagasaki and had relative freedom to go around the town, whereas the Dutch merchants were confined on a small artificial island called Deshima or Dejima. Due to Japan's isolation from the world at that time Japanese people were especially fascinated by the exotic appearance and culture of foreign people. Pictures of foreigners were always in good demand, and in the late Edo period, especially after Japan opened up to the West in 1858, a lot of prints and paintings depicting foreigners were produced by ukiyo-e artists and traditional painters. (When referring to this item please quote stockid 157329).