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Holland en Japan, 400 jaar handel

Holland and Japan, 400 years of trade Exhibition: 11 February - 25 May 2009

From the Rijksmuseum website, 3 May 2009

From 11 January to 25 May 2009, the Rijksmuseum at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport presents Holland & Japan: 400 Years of Trade, marking the four-hundredth anniversary of commercial ties between the Netherlands and Japan. The exhibition examines the privileged position Dutch traders enjoyed on the isolated island of Deshima and the artistic and cultural interchange that resulted from their commercial contacts. Among over 20 works presented in the show are lacquerware, porcelain, a screen and paintings from the Rijksmuseum collection. The centrepiece is a scroll painting of over 6 metres in length, depicting scenes of everyday life on Deshima.

For centuries, the Dutch on the Japanese island of Deshima were the only window between Japan and the West. It was through Dutch traders that the Japanese learned about Western technology and culture, just as it was through Dutch contacts that the West gradually discovered more about Japanese society. This exchange of information created a special bond between the two countries. A number of unique Japanese paintings, such as the wonderful screen portraying a Dutch ship, a view of Nagasaki Bay and the island of Deshima, and a scroll painting over 6 metres long showing how the Dutch passed their time in their commercial enclave, provide a glimpse of Deshima and its Dutch inhabitants in the 18th and 19th century. Also displayed in the exhibition is an early Dutch imitation lacquer box, an extremely rare and exceptional object. Another more recent acquisition is the spectacular portrait of the Cock Blomhoff family. This huge silk painting shows the senior merchant Jan Cock Blomhoff with his wife Titia, their son and servants. Titia was the first European woman in Japan and was soon forced to leave Deshima. Her remarkable story is told in the first issue of OOG, the Rijksmuseum’s art and history magazine.