'Dutchmen in Miniature'

 

The portrayal of the Dutch by Japanese netsuke artists was popular in the 18th century and presents us with a fascinating insight into the Japanese perceptions of things foreign.

Foreigners, Ebisu, were considered bringers of good fortune, possessing magical power because they came from an unknown land and they came to be worshipped as deities. Netsuke of Dutchmen, therefore, were not only depictions of exotic appearances but probably had a talismanic function, such as warding off evil spirits, as well (Japan Envisions the West, 16th-19th Japanese Art from the Kobe City Museum). 

Netsuke depicting Dutchmen constitute a clearly recognizable group of netsuke; Dutchmen are long, goggle-eyed, bow-legged, with a large nose and bad teeth. They wear a wide-brimmed hat with a feather or tassel, a bowler-hat or a seaman’s cap, a long coat decorated with Chinese motives of dragons, clouds or waves, over knickerbockers and long buttoned socks in low shoes

The portrayal of the Dutch by Japanese artists was popular from the late 18th and during most of the 19th century and presented us with a fascinating insight into the Japanese perception of things foreign. In many Japanese communities, mainly in the south, based on old myths and accessible wisdom, foreigners coming by ship from the South, were considered bringers of good fortune, possessing magical powers and coming from unknown southern lands. Netsuke of Dutchmen, therefore, were not only depictions of the exotic appearances of Westerners, but probably had talismanic functions as well, such as warding off evil and bringing wealth (for more netsuke of Dutchmen see Uit Verre Streken, November 2018). After Japan had been forced, in the 1850s, to open the country to Western powers, Japan quickly modernized, and the Japanese also started to adopt western clothing. This made an end to the use of and to a large extent to the making of netsuke and inro.

A IVORY NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN HOLDING A COCKEREL

Edo period, 18th century
 

Standing upright, with a cockerel in front of him, with chinese coat, wide-brimmed hat and bulbous eyes.

H. 9.4 cm

Note:

The slightly smug Dutchman looks as if his cockerel has just won a fight.
His bulbous eyes, big nose and two remaining teeth are typical for the depictions of Dutchmen in the eyes of the Japanese. He wears a plumed hat, a Dutch collar and a beautiful Chinese coat.

A MARINE IVORY NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN HOLDING A CHINESE FAN

Edo period, late 18th century

With horn buttons in his coat and gaiters.

 

H. 8.3 cm

Provenance:
The Frits Philips Collection

 

Note:

This is a rather traditional depiction of a Dutchman, either holding a fan or a cock.

A BONE NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN HOLDING A PIPE AND HAVING DETACHABLE LEGS

Meiji period, late 19th century

Depicted holding a pipe, in Chinese dress, the legs detachable with a rope creating a two-part netsuke.

H. 7.8 cm

Provenance:

Collection of the Musée de Saint-Cyprien.

Note:

In the 18th century, Nagasaki-e woodblock prints Dutchmen were often portrayed carrying pipes. Still, in netsuke, this is less common, as are the detachable legs, making one hole suffice to attach the rope to the inro.

A SMALL IVORY NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN WITH A DRUM

Edo period, late 18th century

Depicting a seated Dutchman wearing a large hat and holding a drum in front of him, one hand resting on the drum, the other holding a mallet, the entire surface is covered in a beautiful patina.

Height: 3.8 cm

AN IVORY NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN FROLICKING WITH A SMALL BOY


Edo period, 19th century

The Dutchman laying down, making a face, the kid playing with the hat.

H. 2.5 x W. 3.9 cm

Note: 

 

A humourous netsuke of a Dutchman, resting on his knees and elbows, drawing a grimace and a small (Chinese) boy, holding on to the Duchman’s hat, trying to climb onto the man’s back.

Netsuke hout.jpg

A WOOD NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN BY SHUNKOSAI CHOGETSU (1826-1892)

 

Edo period, 19th century

 

Carved in the form of a smiling Dutchman with long hair, carying a bag on his back, slightly bent over, with a large carp to his side in one hand and a rifle over his shoulder, signed Shunkosai.

 

H. 5.4 cm
 

Note:
This netsuke is published in: Katchen, N7, vol. 1, p. 281, no. K710.

 

Netsuke met donderbus.jpg

AN ANTLER AND BLACK HORN NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN

 

Edo period, circa 1800

Carved as a tall Dutchman holding his beard in one hand and a house fly wisk in the other, with a large circular hat topped with feathers, and wearing a long coat with a scale-like pattern, the eyes and buttoned gaiters inlaid with horn.

 

H. 9.2 cm

Netsuke met baard.jpg

AN IVORY AND BLACK HORN NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN

 

Edo period, late 18th century

 

Carved in the form of a Dutchman carrying a matchlock gun on his shoulder, wearing a hood and a long coat with flowerheads and a horn button.

 

H. 5.6 cm

 

Hollander Netsuke wit.TIF.jpg
Netsuke met hoorn.jpg

AN IVORY AND BLACK HORN NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN

 

Late 19th/20th century

 

Carved as a Dutchman with a wide-brimmed hat with a plume on the back, wearing a short coat with Chinese decoration and horn buttons, blowing a trumpet held in his left hand and fan(?) in his right hand.

 

H. 5.5 cm

 

Note:

Next to birds, mainly cockerels, game, and small dogs, trumpets are a common attribute in netsuke of Dutchmen. This instrument was not an Edo period Japanese instrument but resembles a Dutch schalmei, a woodwind instrument which widens towards the end and probably was as exotic in the eyes of the Japanese as the clothing and other attributes of the Dutchmen.

AN ANTLER AND BLACK HORN NETSUKE OF A TALL DUTCHMAN

 

Edo period, circa 1800

 

Carved as a tall Dutchman, with curly wig and a large-brimmed hat with a plume, wearing a long coat and undercoat decorated in Chinese style, firmly holding a cockerel under his arm.

 

H. 9.4 cm

 

Note:

This tall man has the classical appearance of a 17th century Dutchman in the eyes of the Japanese with the curly wig, bulging eyes, and teeth that leave something to be desired. Depicted with a cockerel, for the Dutch killed time during long waits on Deshima between the arrival of ships, by holding cockfights as entertainment and a betting opportunity.

A BOXWOOD NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN

 

Edo period, late 18th century

 

Depicted as a Dutchman wearing typical knee-length trousers and an overcoat with a wave-like pattern, holding a dog in his arms.

The netsuke was beloved by its owner and was extensively used, as can be seen at the damaged hat, and the worn face and dog.

 

H. 11.2 cm

 

Note:

The wave-like pattern is a common decoration, see for instance: Chris Uhlenbeck and Taetske Kramer, Netsuke, Dutchmen in miniature from the Coen Hille Collection, Sieboldhuis, 2013, image 5 and 6.

Netsuke met hond.jpg
Schermafbeelding 2019-02-12 om 21.31.21.

AN IVORY NETSUKE OF A TALL DUTCHMAN

 

Edo period, second half 18th century

 

Depicting a Dutchman wearing a Chinese hat and long coat, holding a long trumpet and apparently whistling, the ivory shows traces of usage, which has given the ivory a nice patina.
 

 

H. 11.6 cm

 

Provenance:
- Collection Carl Monzino, Venice
- His sale; Sotheby's London, 21 June 1995

- Collection Klaus Riess, Munich
 

AN IVORY NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN WITH A DOG ON A LEAD, SIGNED MASATOSHI


20th century

 

The dutchman with wide-brimmed hat, holding a gun in one hand and a leashed dog in the other.

(some restorations to the hat)

H. 5.6 cm

A WOODEN NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN WITH KARAKO AND TRUMPET

 

Edo period, late 18th century

The bent and laughing Dutchman with long curly hair is holding a trompet “schalmei” in his right hand and with his left arm supporting a Karako (Chinese child) on his shoulder.
 

H. 8.8 cm

Note:
With the blowing of the “schalmei” the arrival of a Dutch ship is supposed to be announced.

A TALL IVORY NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN HOLDING A LANTERN

Edo period, 18th century

 

Elegantly carved with swirls to the beard and bottom of the dress.
 

H. 10 cm

Note:
A pointedly humorous netsuke showing a forcefully laughing, bearded Dutchman. The very expressive face makes this netsuke stand out; the eyes are closed, the mouth wide open with visible teeth lets out a contagious laugh. His hairstyle is convoluted in a parodying manner as is his beard, the seam of his coat and his shoes. On his back, the Dutchman is carrying a lantern attached to ropes he is holding. To the lantern are attached two squiggled decorative elements. Restorations to one of the decorative elements, to one lock of his hair, to two volutes at the seam of the coat and to a thin section of his back including one of the himotoshi.

AN IVORY NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN AND A CHILD

 

Edo period, 19th century

 

With black horn inlaid eyes and buttons on the drum.

 

H. 5.2 cm

 

Note:
The standing Dutchman with a grotesque face is beating a drum he is holding in his raised left hand. His facial expression suggests he is deep into the groove. His head is covered by a seaman’s cap over long hair, and he is wearing a long densely patterned coat. A boy is sitting at his feet, blowing a trumpet with all his might. It could be called a “Dutch concert”,
 

AN UNUSUAL NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN BY MASAKAZU

Osaka, Edo period, early 19th century

 

With ornately carved coat, holding a bowl or Calabasas, curly hair and beard.
 

H. 7.2 cm

Note:
A fine netsuke of a Dutchman with the very expressive facial features is typical of the Osaka artist Masakazu. The Dutchman has an over-exaggerated wide smile with visible teeth, large bulbous nose and almost closed eyes. He is wearing a cap over curly hair, has a stubby beard and is holding a large fruit with a circular opening on one side with a tiny moveable bead inside. Special attention has been given to the ornate coat, which is incised with many decorative patterns and scrolling vines.

A LARGE NETSUKE/OKIMONO OF A SHIP WITH DUTCHMEN

 

19th century

 

Carved as a dragon ship with several dutchmen.
 

H. 6 x L. 10 cm

 

Note:
A total of eight Dutchmen populate this large netsuke of a two-tiered ship with an impressive dragon prow. The front and back show two lookouts, one with a telescope, and the ship is powered by two oarsmen one on each side. The other Dutchmen are relaxing, enjoying themselves while smoking a pipe, except for one who is crawling out of the structure by the bow, with an amusing facial expression. The underside of the ship is decorated with waves and has one central himotoshi. However, because of the size, it may be an okimono rather than a netsuke. The telescope is restored.

An ivory netsuke of a Dutchman holding a dog in his arms

Edo period, late 18th century

 

With wide-brimmed hat and dog in his arms.

Provenance:

Collection of the Musée de Saint-Cyprien

Note:
he Dutch interest in their dogs as pets and their affection towards them fascinated the Japanese and explains the inclusion of small pet dogs in the netsuke’s of Dutchmen by the netsuke carvers.

AN IVORY NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN WITH TWO DOGS

 

Edo period, 18th century

 

The dutchman holding a fan, the two dogs playing with each other in his arms.

H. 3.8 cm

Note:

An early netsuke of a seated Dutchman with two dogs in front of him with a nice patina showing considerable wear. The Dutchman has the usual parodied features such as a very big noose, long hair, he is wearing a seaman’s cap and holding a Chinese fan, amusingly suggesting the Dutchman, like Sennin and gods, is of otherworldly origin.

AN IVORY NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN HOLDING A STICK AND COCKEREL, SIGNED YOSHIYUKI

 

Late 19th century

The Dutchman with Chinese expression, dressed in typical 18th-century Dutch attire.


H. 6.8 cm

Note:

Yoshiyuki is known as a carver of ivory netsuke, particularly of goats.

AN IVORY NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN HOLDING A COCKEREL AND SCRATCHING HIS HEAD


Edo period, early 19th century

 

Dressed in typical 18th-century Dutch attire, with long hair in a tail, with wave pattern on his coat.

 

H. 10 cm

A STAG ANTLER NETSUKE OF A DUTCHMAN WITH A DEER


Edo period, late 18th century

 

The Dutchman with wide-brimmed hat, carrying a shot deer on its shoulders, of nice wear and patina.


H. 9.5 cm

ATONKOTSU (TOBACCO POUCH) AND DUTCHMAN NETSUKE, SIGNED HASEGAWA IKKO

Japan, Edo period, circa 1820

Tonkotsu in bamboo and wood with a decoration of clouds, tiger and dragon, the inside gilt, the netsuke in wood, antler, ivory, horn and mother of pearl depicting a Dutchman, with movable limbs, holding a dog in his arms.

Tonkotsu H. 7 x W. 10 x D. 4 cm

Netsuke H. 9 cm

Note:

The signature is worn but without doubt of Hasegawa
Ikko. Hasegawa Ikko worked in Kansai around 1800 and is considered one of the very best artists, working in many different materials, including, ivory, bamboo, ebony, kakhi-wood, antler, and mother of pearl. His best work is in pipe cases and tobacco boxes, giving any subject a very artistic form. The quality of the carving on this tonkotsu is exceptional and the netsuke isn’t only the very best, it is also unique in having movable limbs and witty in that the Dutchman has an inro.

Provenance:

Collection Lü Xiaguang (1906- 1994). Lü arrived in Paris in 1930 together with his friend Wu Zuoren (1908-1997), both of them students of the famous Chinese painter of horses Xu Beihong (1895-1953). Lü studied beaux art
in Paris and Brussels. He married in Paris but returned to China in 1936 where he joined
the Kuomintang under Chang Kai-Check. He became a general in 1937 during the Chinese-

Japanese war. In 1946 he returned to France where he settled as painter and art dealer.
In the sixties he exhibited in the Biennale. In 1993 Lü gave part of his collection of European and Chinese paintings to the museum of the province Zhejiang in Hangzou. As a dealer Lü collected Asian and European art for over a period of 40 years.

A BRONZE AND BONE NETSUKE OF A MATCHLOCK PISTOL

Edo period, late 18th century


The gun part-gilt, the ojime tubular with chrysanthemum carving at each end.


L. 7 cm (gun)

L. 3.7 cm (ojime)

Note:
After the introduction of firearms by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the Japanese firearms hardly developed because the use of firearms was not in keeping with the “bushidõ”, “the way of the warrior” during the Shogunate.

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