Yokohama: 1859. Item #395
Ukiyo-e woodblock print ca. 19,5x26,5 cm. With a printed title in the right upper corner and dense printed text on the upper margin. Paper slightly age toned, four small worm holes on the right margin, but overall a very good copy of this very rare print.
Rare early Japanese depiction of Count Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky (1809-1881), the General Governor of Russian Siberia and the Far East, taken during his official visit to Edo in August 1859. The purpose of the visit was to negotiate the Russian-Japanese state border and to legally secure the ownership of Sakhalin Island to Russia.
Muravyov-Amursky arrived at Yokohama on August 5 with a squadron of eight Russian naval ships and received Japanese plenipotentiaries aboard his flagship ‘Askold’. Two days later he went ashore ‘‘with a large retinue, including an honor guard of three hundred sailors and a drum and bugle corps’’ (Lensen, G. Russians in Japan, 1858-1859). The negotiations started in Edo on August 12, but ended without a result, the Japanese side referring to the Treaty of Shimoda (1855) which mentioned common use of Sakhalin Island. Muravyov-Amursky and Russian naval squadron left Yokohama on August 24, 1859 and proceeded to Hakodate and thence to Nikolayevsk. During the delegation’s stay in Edo three Russian sailors were attacked by Japanese in Yokohama and cut with swords, only one surviving. This was one of
the first attacks on foreigners after the opening of Japan to the outside world. The victims were buried on the specially designed cemetery for the foreigners in Yokohama.
The print depicts Muravyov-Amursky and his retinue entering Yokohama, the Governor wearing his official uniform and hat, with a sword and holding an umbrella; he is preceded with drummers and trumpeters, a flag bearer, and is followed by several officers and a servant carrying a chair. The text on the upper margin starts with a description on Russia: ‘‘Russia is a big country between Asia and Europe and has one third of land in the world…’’ (in translation).