A Japanese Edo-period woodblock image of the Roman forum

Here’s a curiosity!  Have you ever wondered what Rome would look like, to someone from the alien cultures of China or Japan?

David Blocker kindly emailed me the following image, which he found on Wikipedia here.  It was made by a Japanese artist who had never seen Rome, and to whom a ruined stone city was utterly alien since he lived in a world constructed mostly of wood.

utagawa_toyoharu_rome

I learn from Wikipedia that the artist was Utagawa Toyoharu (d. 1814), and is based on an 18th century western print of various monuments of Rome.  It belongs to the Edo period, when Japan was closed to westerners.

Fascinating.  Thank you David!