right screen Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

The new genre paintings of the floating world, which promoted background figures to subjects in their own right, drew on the conventions of earlier works depicting auspicious seasonal events. These screens portray the arrival of a Portuguese ship at a Japanese port (left) and the procession of the captain into town (right). Townspeople peer through shop windows to glimpse the exotic mariners, dressed in vividly patterned Southeast Asian fabrics and surrounded by golden mist. The Portuguese first reached Japan in 1543 and established an annual voyage to trade silver, silks, and spices. Although the Christian religion they brought with them was banned in 1614, the welcome arrival of these ships bearing precious cargo remained a popular auspicious painting subject until the mid- 17th century.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
A Portuguese Trading Ship Arrives in Japan
Work Type
screen, painting
17th century
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Edo period, 1615-1868
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, gold, and gold leaf on paper.
each screen, painting proper: H. 142.7 × W. 350.4 cm (56 3/16 × 137 15/16 in.)
each screen, overall with mount: H. 160 × W. 367.4 cm (63 × 144 5/8 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Promised gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

Portugal e o mundo nos séculos XVI e XVII : encompassing the globe / coordenação científica, exh. cat. (Lisbon, 2009)

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, exh. cat., Yomiuri Shinbunsha (Tokyo, 2013), pp. 142-143, cat. 70

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Mark K. Erdmann, and Ryuji Hiraoki, Hiroshi Sugimoto: Gates of Paradise, exh. cat., Skira Rizzoli and Japan Society (New York, NY, 2017), pp. 142-145

Yukio Lippit, "An Interview with Japanese Painting Collectors Robert and Betsy Feinberg", Orientations, Orientations Magazine (Hong Kong, January/February 2020), vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 34-43, pp. 34-35, figs 1a and b

Rachel Saunders and Yukio Lippit, Painting Edo: Selections from the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA, 2020), pp. 30-31, figs. 14-16

Exhibition History

Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th Centuries, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Brussels, 11/26/2007 - 02/03/2008

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, 05/21/2013 - 07/15/2013; Miho Museum, 07/20/2013 - 08/18/2013; Tottori Prefectural Museum, 10/05/2013 - 11/10/2013

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Gates of Paradise, Japan Society, New York, 10/20/2017 - 01/07/2018

Japan's Global Baroque, 1550-1650, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 02/23/2018 - 05/21/2018

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/14/2020 - 05/05/2020

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

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This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu