© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London | Licence: CC BY-NC-ND
© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London | Licence: CC BY-NC-ND

'Yobuko, west coast, Japan'

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From the Collection


From an album by James Henry Butt (1844-1936) containing 51 watercolour drawings, 50 mounted on separate pages, with one loose item and three blank sheets. They are mainly in chronological order and were presumably mounted in the album and captioned later, generally in pencil on the album page below the image, though some have monograph signatures, brief inscriptions and dates. The opening view of Cape Town is followed by 45 Eastern ones, mostly coastal, with two figure studies of Japanese girls. The last two drawings are an undated view of Posillipo, near Naples and one of Start Point, Devon, the latter made in August 1870 before Butt's next (home) posting in May 1871. He made all the others while second and subsequently third lieutenant of HMS 'Sylvia', survey ship, Commander Edward Wolfe Brooker (1827-70), which sailed for the China Station in late 1866 via Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and the Andaman Islands to undertake hydrographic work mainly in southern and western Japan. No. 20 of 51. inscribed by the artist on the album page, as title, with the date '7/68'. A country view towards an inlet from the sea, with a road in the foreground. To the left Japanese figures stand beside a wayside shrine with an elevated statue of a seated Budda. The people appear poor: the tattered short dress of one suggests a beggar, with another similar figure on the other side of the road, so they may be soliciting alms from passers-by. Yobuko is on the east side of a deep bay in northern Kyushu, inside Kabe island (much larger than any islands shown here) which lies across a strait to the north.

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© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

From the Watercolour World


Yobuko, Japan