Woodblock Print, Portrait of Matthew Calbraith Perry

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INSCRIPTION READS: PERURI ZO KITA-AMERIKA JIMBUTSU (PORTRAIT OF PERRY, A NORTH AMERICAN) ORIGINAL DATE OF COLLECTION: 1930'S. DATE OF PRINT, CA. 1854.
From card: "Woodblock print. Color portrait of Commodore [Matthew Calbraith] Perry as seen by a Japanese artist, [1854]. Inscription: Peruri zo kita - Amerika jimbutsu (Portrait of Perry, a North American). Donor collected in Japan while her husband served in the US diplomatic service in the 1930's. (Framed). - CSH [Chang-su Houchins], April 1984. Loaned to National Archives & Records Services Jan. 10, 1977."
Perry's epaulets in this print have a resemblance to Japanese armor, possibly mail armor (kusari). Also, the whites of Perry's eyes are depicted as blue. Per "Black Ships & Samurai" by John W. Dower - Chapter Two, "Perry", p. 3, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (c) 2008 Visualizing Cultures, http://visualizingcultures.mit.edu : "In feudal Japan, Westerners were sometimes referred to as "blue-eyed barbarians," and it is possible that some artists were a bit confused about where such blueness resided. It was also the case, however, that in Japanese woodblock prints ferocious and threatening figures such as monsters and renegades were stigmatized by the same strange blue eyeball. Whatever the explanation, popular renderings of Perry and his fellow Americans drew on conventions entrenched in Japanese culture."
See Chang-Su Houchins. 1995. Artifacts of Diplomacy: Smithsonian Collections from Commodore Matthew Perry's Japan Expedition (1853-1854). Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology, Number 37. P. 88.
Record Last Modified
24 Jul 2016
Specimen Count
1
Donor Name
Mrs. Lispenard S. Crocker
Accession Date
30 Dec 1960
Collection Date
1930
See more items in
Anthropology
Accession Number
232559
USNM Number
E398566-0
Culture
Japanese
Topic
Ethnology
Place
Japan, Asia
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
Object Type
Print