We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


The arrival of the Portuguese

late 16th century-early 17th century


Kanō School


  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615 - 1868 → Japan
    Momoyama period 1573 - 1615 → Japan
    late 16th century-early 17th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    single six-panel screen; ink and colours on gold-leafed paper
    152.0 x 369.0 cm image; 152.0 x 370.2 cm screen
    Signature & date

    l.r., in Japanese ink "[artist's seal]". Not dated.

    Purchased 1996
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Kanō School

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The first Westerners to reach the shores of Japan were Portuguese seamen who, on route to their regular trading posts in South-east Asia, were blown off course in 1542. Subsequently the Portuguese established trading posts in Japan (initially in Nagasaki), and the arrival of these strange people with their odd clothes and seemingly invincible ships naturally caused immense curiosity among the Japanese. These new and unexpected arrivals were known as 'namban', 'southern barbarians', as they always arrived in Japan from the south. Their presence, and the Japanese fascination with these exotic commercial itinerants, gave rise to a whole artistic genre. This beautiful and atmospheric screen was originally one of a pair. It is an exceptional example of this relatively rare genre, combining the classic Japanese sensitivity to seasonal moods, and the abstract stylisation of the Japanese decorative instinct. The screen illustrates an ascending hierarchy from left to right; beginning with the group of three servants, one of whom is holding a dog on a leash. In the centre is a senior member of the ship's crew, and on the right the captain-major.

    Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 270.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 6 publications

  • Provenance

    Eskenazi Ltd Oriental Art, May 1996, London/England, purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1996.