GOSEDA YOSHIMATSU [1855-1915], ten portraits of Yamato Nadeshko,

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Lot 106
GOSEDA YOSHIMATSU [1855-1915], ten portraits of Yamato Nadeshko,

Sold for £ 13,680 (US$ 17,153) inc. premium

Asian

24 May 2005, 10:30 BST

London, Knightsbridge

GOSEDA YOSHIMATSU [1855-1915], ten portraits of Yamato Nadeshko,
each girl, almost certainly from Yokohama, drawn in sumi and colour as a head and shoulders likeness; most of the pictures approximately 8 x 6 inches [20 x 15 cm.]; one portrait inscribed [possibly by Charles Wirgman himself]: 'Drawn by Yoshimatsu, a pupil of C. Wirgman, aged 14 years', all framed and glazed [10]

Footnotes

  • Goseda Yoshimatsu was born in Edo during the five year rule of Tokugawa Iesada [1824-1858], the 13th Tokugawa Shogun. In November of 1855, the year of Goseda san's birth, Edo was hit by a violent earthquake, killing an estimated 25,000 people. Perhaps this event was influential in precipitating Goseda's move to Yokohama in 1864.

    Yokohama, at this time, was experiencing a profound socio-economic change. In 1858 Mr Harris, the 'Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States' had finally agreed the terms of a treaty which allowed foreigners into Yokohama. This was not widely regarded as a popular decision, but the tide had now turned against the Bakufu's domestic isolation. Envoys were sent from Japan to America in 1860, and to France in 1862, as the first tentative steps towards international diplomacy.

    Goseda could not have moved to Yokohama at a more eventful moment, becoming a pupil of Charles Wirgman [circa 1832-91] at the tender age of 11. Wirgman's career defines the changes which the new gaijin wrought in Yokohama. He arrived in Japan as a correspondent for the London Illustrated News in 1861, marrying a local girl, and spending the next thirty years in and around Yokohama. It is no exaggeration to conclude that Wirgman's painting dramatically influenced the development of Western style painting amongst Japanese artists.

    Wirgman's artistic talents extended to cartoons which satirised the fledgeling relationships of east and west; some of these appeared in The Japan Punch, just prior to the Meiji Restoration in 1866 ['The World of The Meiji Print' by Julia Meech-Pekarik, refers]. Wirgman presumably found this work entertaining by comparison with his responsibilities as a London hack, albeit one covering momentous events such as the opening of the Tokyo to Yokohama railway, which he witnessed on 14th October, 1872. Inevitably, one is forced to speculate as to whether the young Goseda painted his master's wife. If this was so, could one of the ten ladies here have been Mrs. Wirgman?

    Such was the cultural kaleidoscope into which the young Goseda entered, but he nevertheless showed an uncanny ability to portray a Japanese-Western genre which documented both the time and place in which he lived. John Clark in 'Japanese Exchanges in Art/1850s-1930s', summarised Goseda's skill: 'he absorbed watercolouring technique, genre scene composition, and some skill in portraiture from Wirgman. He was however a far more talented artist than his teacher.'

    Appropriately, examples of Goseda san's work dating from the 1860s and 1870s can be seen in the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum in Yokohama.
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