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Schip Gedeh.jpg

Chinese School (19th century)

Canton sail-paddle-steamship “Gedeh”, circa 1855

At the reverse is a label reading: “Stoomschip de Gedeh waarmee ik in het jaar 1855 de reis heb gedaan van Batavia naar Japan. Ten geschenke ontvangen van den kapitein ter zee G. Fabius welke bovengenoemd schip commandeerde tijdens mijn verblijf aan boord. C.J.G van Hardenbroek” (Steamship Gedeh on which I made a trip from Batavia to Japan in 1855. Received as present from G. Fabius who was the captain of this ship when I was aboard. C.J.G. van Hardenbroek)

Oil on canvas, 45.5 x 59.3 cm

Baron C.J.G. van Hardenbroek van Bergambacht en ‘sHeeraartsberg was orderly to H.M. William III of the Netherlands. In 1855 van Hardenbroek was sent, together with Johan Maurits Count van Lynden, Aide-de-Champs to King William III, to Japan to present the Emperor of Japan with a more than life-size portrait of King William III by the painter N. Pienemans. Besides the King’s portrait, during the same trip, the paddle-steamer Soembing was to be presented to the Shogun.

The trip from Batavia to Nagasaki was made aboard the steam warship Gedeh under captain lieutenant-colonel Gerhardus Fabius (1806-1888). This was the second mission by Fabius to Japan.

On his first (secret) mission in 1854, Fabius was made captain of the Soembing. On this first mission, Fabius had to present the Japanese with an electromagnetic telegraph and teach them, on board the Soembing, modern technologies such as steam engines, shipbuilding, artillery, etc. Not through the display of power and threats as the Americans, English and Russians, but through books and science Fabius wanted to influence the Japanese to open up to the West, and in that way, Fabius was instrumental in the founding of the Japanese navy.

The Soembing was the first modern steam warship for the Japanese navy but, to be honest, not a very good warship. On its way to Nagasaki on the second trip, it was so slow and used so much coal that Fabius decided to have it towed by the Gedeh. However, that was not a success either because the ship’s hawsers regularly snapped.

Also, during his second visit, Fabius gave daily marine teachings, exercises with artillery, ship manoeuvring, etc. to over 200 Japanese pupils on board the Soembing and the Gedeh. The daimyo of Fizen, the area around Nagasaki, was so enthusiastic about modern Western technologies that he proposed to Fabius to buy the Gedeh, which Fabius, of course, could not comply with, but he had to order a “schroef-corvet” for the daimyo and help him to establish a factory for steam engines which was realized three years later, opposite Deshima and grew to become the multinational Mitsubishi.

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