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2020-11-12 22:30:31
WATT, James.
Japanese fan depicting Watt's experiments with steam. An illustration of Mr. Watt, born in Scotland, conceiving the idea of the steam engine" [Sukotsurando Koku ni Umare, Watto-shi Joki (Kikan?) wo (Chakuso?)-suru Zu].
[c.1870]. Single concertinaed leaf of fan paper (430 x 125 mm). Window mounted in archival grade board (407 x 605 mm). Water-colour illustration, two red stamps, and black text to front. Stamp of sailing ship in black to reverse. Remarkably well-preserved, minor nicks to edges; overall near-fine condition. An attractive, delicate, and understandably scarce Japanese fan depicting the popular scientific myth of James Watt timing a boiling tea kettle, the Japanese caption reading "an illustration of Mr. Watt, born in Scotland, conceiving the idea of the steam engine". According to the story, Watt measured water drop by drop as it condensed from steam coming out of the spout of the kettle. We have been unable to locate any comparable fans either institutionally or in commerce, making this a notable survival. Although the event is alleged to have occurred in Watt's childhood in Scotland, here he is presented working in Japan as a contemporarily dressed adult, the scene through the window featuring a traditional Japanese sailing boat. This work appeared at a time of intense "westernisation" in Japan, a key feature of which was the proliferation of images of Western scientists in a traditional Japanese style. "This was a time when Japan was opened up to Western science and technology, and evidently to its mythologies also" (Miller, p. 19). These images were produced with the purpose of encouraging young Japanese students to take up the mantle of those depicted and were often issued directly by the Japanese Ministry of Education (Insley, p. 39). The prints had a second purpose of … [Click Below for Full Description]
Bookseller: Peter Harrington [United Kingdom]

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