Sadahide Utagawa went by several names during his career, but was born Kenjiro Hashimoto in 1807. Working in both Edo and Yokohama, he was one of Kunisada’s most accomplished pupils. His compositional style was greatly influenced by Western art, offering extensive studies of perspective, sometimes depicting his subjects from a bird’s eye view. Sadahide was one of eleven Japanese printmakers who exhibited their work at the Paris International Exposition of 1866, from which he received the Légion d’Honneur.
In 1854, the Convention of Kanagawa established formal U.S. trade with Japan. Four years later, the Harris Treaty of 1858 opened two more trade ports to the United States. The Ansei Treaties (1858) followed, extending trade to the Netherlands, Russia, France and England. The foreigners of these five nations poured into the port of Yokohama, just south of modern Tokyo. During his time, Sadahide produced a number of acclaimed studies of Westerners known as yokohama-e. He stayed true to the ukiyo-e spirit by continuing to capture the everyday, a world that now featured baroque architecture, hooped skirts, and violins. Sold by booksellers and vendors, these prints illustrated the curious machines and imported fashions entering Japan, as well as imagined renderings of the foreigners’ homelands.