America: Van Reed
From Picture of the Residence of a Foreign Merchant from Overseas at Yokohama
Utagawa Sadahide, Japanese, c. 1807 - 1873. Published by Moriya Jihei, Kinshindō.
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This woodcut, along with Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1968-165-18, forms the left-hand sections of a pentaptych (five-panel) composition. Their visual connection is evident in the gray pavement that runs through the foreground of both prints. Complete sets of this pentaptych are rare because each segment is so striking as an independent image that it is not immediately apparent that it was designed to be part of a larger picture.
The man on horseback is shown entering the gate of a foreigner's residential compound in Yokohama. He is thought to be Eugene van Reed, an American who developed a close and profitable relationship with a Japanese lord of the Satsuma domain. Sadahide's portrayal of van Reed as a confident man astride his horse signifies his charismatic personality, which led to his successful negotiation of a private treaty to handle foreign trade for Satsuma.