Isono Busai (? - 1857)
'Nagasaki miyage' - Souvernir from Nagasaki, 1847
Woodblock prints, 23 x 15.5 cm
Some water staining and woodworm holes at the bottom of pages.
Bound in the Japanese manner in original brick-red paper wrappers. Text printed from woodcuts; with eleven double-page and six full page woodcut illustrations. This is a rare and gorgeously illustrated guide to Nagasaki and surroundings, concentrating on the Dutch and Chinese traders. The woodcuts include, several town and country views, a procession, an “olifant”, a “Holland vrouw” (Mimi Villeneuve who joined her husband in Deshima in 1824), a view of the Deshima compound and an interior with a dining Dutchman accompanied by Japanese courtisans, a Dutch VOC ship, a Dutchman in an Empire style interior, “Hollandsche uurwerk” a Dutch merchant holding a pocket watch with his Indonesian servant bringing a decanter and glass, and an interior with two Chinese merchants seated at a table with a servant handing them books.
The work is essentially a collection of prints which had been previously published separately and only in1847 for the first time were reissued, with a an extensive explanatory text, in book form. Jack Hillier (The art of the Japanese book, London 1987) has noted that “although separate sheet prints of the Dutch and Chinese traders were produced in some numbers in Nagasaki from c. 1750, the earliest book on the town and its foreign commerce published in the town itself did not appear until 1847”. Isono Bunsai was a famous Nagasaki artist and the owner of the Yamatoya publishing house from around 1835 until his death in1857. He brought Edo techniques to Nagasaki, incorporated Western drawing techniques and refined the naive Nagasaki style.