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Museum buys Japanese painting of colonial Dutch woman

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM – The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has purchased the earliest-known Japanese portrait of a Dutch trader’s family. The portrait of the Cock Blomhoff family was painted on silk by artist Ishizaki Yushi and was owned by a descendent of the Leeuwarden-born Blomhoffs. The Cock Blomhoff family is among the most widely painted and drawn non-Japanese in the Far East nation. Blomhoff, who was employed as a trader on the Dutch colonial post of Deshima, for unclear reasons took his wife to the post even though he must have known that doing so could raise objections from the Japanese court, which after a short period ordered her to leave the country. Her husband stayed, but saw him never again. By then, Japanese artists, who were fascinated by the Dutch woman, had finished their art. Her image continues to be widely used in Japanese art. It is four centuries ago this year, that the Dutch were given sole trading privileges in Japan.