VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Panoramic View of Nagasaki City and Bay
RMV 360-7885
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

In all its detail, this panoramic view is a really remarkable painting. This can only be appreciated when we realize that it was made around 1820 by the Nagasaki painter Kawahara Keiga. The artist could not at the time avail himself of aerial photography. This raises two questions: how did Keiga accomplish this, and how did he conceive the idea to paint it this way? Remember that there is probably nothing in the tradition of Japanese painting which could have helped him develop this concept. Could it have been Blomhoff, the commissioner of the painting? Even so, how could he possibly have explained what exactly he had in mind? In spite of the questions it raises, the painting cannot fail to convince us of its unheard of accomplishment. Moreover, it continues to attract our attention to ever new details, never revealing the secrets it has. Prof. Matthi Forrer, curator Japanese arts, Leiden.

History of the Object
This painting depicts the city of Nagasaki with the foreign settlements for the Chinese and the Dutch to the right, offering a view of Nagasaki Bay to the left.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Silk, pigments 
Measurements
Width 60 cm. Length 320 cm.  
Creator name
Kawahara Keiga 
Creator date
1786-1860 ca. 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; 1820 (ca.) 
Function
painting 
Acquisition
Jan Cock Blomhoff (1779-1853) acted as chief merchant or Captain of the Dutch settlement at Deshima, Nagasaki, Japan, from 1817 to 1823. His collection was bought by King William I in 1826. Jan Cock Blomhoff’s collection is unique in the sense that it is the earliest collection in museum history where a collection was explicitly established to elucidate the public on what and why another culture is different and what it entails. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
State property, the Netherlands 
Museum
National Museum of Ethnology, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde 
Credit line
National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, the Netherlands 

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