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The American merchant Eugene Van Reed
Date: approx. 1861
Historical Period: Meiji period (1868-1912)
Materials: Ink and colors on silk
Dimensions: H. 40 1/2 in x W. 14 in, H. 102.9 cm x W. 35.6 cm (image)
Credit Line: Transfer from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Mrs. Noble T. Biddle
Department: Japanese Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: 2001.8
On Display: No

Description

Label:

Sadahide represents an early American merchant in Japan as a rather proud figure on horseback. The merchant's Japanese attendant has on his jacket a medallion with an American eagle and the U.S. shield.

A 24-year-old Eugene Van Reed went to Japan in 1859, only six years after Commodore Perry's mission. Van Reed spent thirteen years in Yokohama working variously as a clerk in the American consulate, a trader, an arms dealer, and a travel agent for Japanese people wishing to visit the United States. He is best known—or most infamous—for his activities during the latter years of this period. According to the website of the Japanese American National Museum: "In 1868, Van Reed sent a group of approximately 150 Japanese to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations and another 40 people to Guam. This unauthorized recruitment and shipment of laborers, known as the gannenmono, marked the beginning of Japanese labor migration overseas. However, for the next two decades the Meiji government prohibited the departure of 'immigrants' due to the slavelike treatment that the first Japanese migrants received in Hawai'i and Guam."

This painting of Van Reed was donated in 1918 by Margaretta Van Reed Biddle, who was Van Reed's sister. They were born in Pennsylvania but lived in San Francisco after their father moved the family to California just after the Gold Rush of 1849. Presumably her brother commissioned Sadahide to paint his portrait and later gave it or bequeathed it to his sister. The bamboo frame is likely to have been on the painting when it was donated in 1918. In fact, the frame could possibly be original to the painting. Japanese paintings did not traditionally have such frames, but this frame could have been chosen by Van Reed.


More Information

Inscriptions: "Edo of Great Japan. Painted by Hashimoto Gyokuransai Sadahide"
Exhibition History: " A Curious Affair: The Fascination between East and West", Asian Art Museum, 6/17/2006 - 9/3/2006

"Designed for Pleasure: The World of Edo Japan in Prints and Paintings, 1680-1860", Asia Society, 2/25/2008 - 5/4/2008
Label:

Sadahide represents an early American merchant in Japan as a rather proud figure on horseback. The merchant's Japanese attendant has on his jacket a medallion with an American eagle and the U.S. shield.

A 24-year-old Eugene Van Reed went to Japan in 1859, only six years after Commodore Perry's mission. Van Reed spent thirteen years in Yokohama working variously as a clerk in the American consulate, a trader, an arms dealer, and a travel agent for Japanese people wishing to visit the United States. He is best known—or most infamous—for his activities during the latter years of this period. According to the website of the Japanese American National Museum: "In 1868, Van Reed sent a group of approximately 150 Japanese to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations and another 40 people to Guam. This unauthorized recruitment and shipment of laborers, known as the gannenmono, marked the beginning of Japanese labor migration overseas. However, for the next two decades the Meiji government prohibited the departure of 'immigrants' due to the slavelike treatment that the first Japanese migrants received in Hawai'i and Guam."

This painting of Van Reed was donated in 1918 by Margaretta Van Reed Biddle, who was Van Reed's sister. They were born in Pennsylvania but lived in San Francisco after their father moved the family to California just after the Gold Rush of 1849. Presumably her brother commissioned Sadahide to paint his portrait and later gave it or bequeathed it to his sister. The bamboo frame is likely to have been on the painting when it was donated in 1918. In fact, the frame could possibly be original to the painting. Japanese paintings did not traditionally have such frames, but this frame could have been chosen by Van Reed.


Inscriptions: "Edo of Great Japan. Painted by Hashimoto Gyokuransai Sadahide"
Exhibition History: " A Curious Affair: The Fascination between East and West", Asian Art Museum, 6/17/2006 - 9/3/2006

"Designed for Pleasure: The World of Edo Japan in Prints and Paintings, 1680-1860", Asia Society, 2/25/2008 - 5/4/2008
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