François Carlebur was born in Dordrecht in 1821, where he died in 1893. His father combined drawing and painting with his profession as a house painter, but Francois junior devoted himself entirely to art. He was a pupil of his famous city colleague J.C. Schotel and drew and painted ships, usually commissioned by the captains. Soon he became fascinated with the rapidly developing photography. He put aside his palette and brushes and traveled to Paris to learn photography. He was taught by the great master of photography, L.J.M. Daguerre. Back in Dordrecht, he established himself as a photographer, but also returned to painting. In 1868 he painted the Kaiyō-maru, a warship commissioned by Japan and built in 1865 at C. Gips’ shipyard in Dordrecht.
It is not only a very well painted portrayal of a ship by an artist of whom only a small amount of work is known, but moreover the painting is of large historical value. For the Kaiyō-maru was the ship that ended an age-long era of contact between Japan and the Netherlands. A collaboration that began with the arrival of the first Dutch on the ship the ‘Liefde’ in 1600 and that ended with the breaking awayfrom isolationism by Japan because of America in 1854. The building of the Kaiyō-maru, for which the order went to Netherlands thanks to the mediation of the Nederlandsche Handelsmaatschappij, also marked the birth of the modern Japanese navy and shipbuilding.