Title: Kaigai Shinwa, 1849. Volumes 2-5
Artist: Utagawa Sadahide
A scarce first edition of Sadahide’s Kaigai Shinwa, also known as New Overseas Stories, regarding the First Opium War between China and Great Britain This edition comprises of volumes 2,3,4, and 5, and lacks the first volume.
Published only a few years before Commodore Perry and the Black Ships arrived in Japan, this text reports the events that occurred in China and how a foreign power such as Great Britain was taking control of a neighboring Asian country. For a country that for centuries had very little foreign influence, the events of the Opium Wars proved to be a warning for the Shogunate and the nation to protect themselves against potential similar circumstances. However, with Perry’s arrival, the Bakumatsu and subsequent opening of Japan to the West would soon follow.
In total, there are 12 woodblock illustrations throughout, 1. There are various depictions of warships, naval battles, ground warfare, and varying wartime atrocities.
Sadahide was best known for his ukiyo-e style prints as a member of the Utagawa school. Among his best known works are his Yokohama-e illustrations of foreigners in Yokohama in the 1860s, a period when he was a best-selling artist.
Four of five volumes in quarto, 23, 27, 27, 22 leaves
On note of condition, these volumes are in good shape, with rubbing and wear to the bindings. There is worming noted on the upper right margin of volume two, as well as volume 5, though no text or imagery is affected. The title labels for volume three and four are flapping loosely, though holding. There is some staining throughout.