The Secret Liaisons of the Dutch VOC Head and Other Strangers by Kawahara Keiga
Marijn Kruijff
3 min

Secret Liaisons of the Dutch VOC Head and Other Strangers by Kawahara Keiga

3 min

When the first European women (Dutch) came to Japan in 1817 they were at once painted. One was none other than Titia Bergsma, the wife of the VOC head in Japan, Jan Cock Blomhoff, who brought her on his second trip. His wife came with two maids and their child. They were soon expelled, although not before the important Nagasaki artist Kawahara Keiga (1786-1860?) could make a formal portrait (Fig.2).

intimate Jan Cock Blomhoff and wife Tizia Belfsma

Fig.1. ‘VOC Head Cock Blomhoff and Wife‘ (Source: Tuyashun)

Lion-legged Sofa

Although the dating cannot be proven, it seems that the painting was immediately remade pornographically (Fig.1). The shunga version has also been attributed to Keiga. This is part of a set of twenty pictures showing Europeans in many situations, with each other and with Japanese. The lion-legged sofa is a striking detail that also appears in another painting with a sailor and a Maruyama romp on it. The size of the genitals and the inclusion of peeping are typically shunga.

painting with Jan Cock Blomhoff and Titia Bergsma

Fig.2. ‘Portrait of Jan Cock Blomhoff (left) and his family, maids and servant‘ (c.1817) by Kawahara Keiga (

portrait Titia Bergma Kawahara Keiga

Fig.3. Close up of Titia Bergsma (

Here are some other examples of the set featuring intimate Europeans…

Kawahara Keiga Nagasaki erotic


Music Lesson

A music lesson has been interrupted for some erotic passion. A flute and harp behind them. The male is depicted as if he’s posing for a picture looking straight at the viewer. Here again a piece of furniture, (the cupboard in the background), which is supported with lion-legs.

Kawahara Keiga Nagasaki painter



Foreigner licking the face of a high-class courtesan during intercourse. Shortly before, she was busy repairing her clothing.

Dutchman and Japanese prostitute Nagasaki


Maruyama Prostitute

Another enticing encounter of a Westerner and a Maruyama prostitute.

Kawahara Keiga Nagasaki artist



European couple with the male lover lifting the skirt of his female partner in order to follow his own actions.

Kawahara Keiga

It is no surprise that Kawahara Keiga has become a painter. His father Kawahara Kōzan (age unknown) was also a painter. This is how he came into contact with various influential painters in Nagasaki. One of these was Ishizaki Yūshi (1768-1846). He was an official inspector of imported Chinese paintings, but was also adept at, among other things, the Western-inspired Japanese painting style yōga. In it, both line perspective and atmospheric perspective are used to suggest depth.

Keiga was given an important opportunity in 1811 when he was assigned as a painter by the Nagasaki authorities to the residents of Deshima. He was given the rare privilege of freely entering the island. Keiga received most of the commissions from the German physician Philipp Franz von Siebold, who was in Japan between 1823 and 1829. Von Siebold also did a lot of research into the flora and fauna of that country. He also needed good illustrations. Keiga’s extremely precise, naturalistic painting style was well suited for this.

For more amorous depictions of Jan Cock Blomhoff click HERE….!!

What do you think about Keiga’s erotic portrayals? Leave your reaction in the comment box below….!!