1 to 10 of 10
Anonymous (Japan) - Two Japanese Women with Plant on Studio Pedestal
Anonymous (Japan)
Two Japanese Women with Plant on Studio Pedestal
$350
Uchida Kuichi - Ainu Children
Uchida Kuichi
Ainu Children
$1,500
Anonymous - Japanese Samurai and Woman
Anonymous
Japanese Samurai and Woman
$4,000
Baron Raimond von Stillfried - Sleeping Japanese Woman
Baron Raimond von Stillfried
Sleeping Japanese Woman
$1,500
Anonymous (possibly copied/printed by Hippolyte Bayard) - Japanese Woman in Winter Garb, Anthropological Study
Anonymous (possibly copied/printed by Hippolyte Bayard)
Japanese Woman in Winter Garb, Anthropological Study
$1,750
Anonymous - Nursing Mother or Wet Nurse with Baby and Tea Set/Two Women Sleeping Together
Anonymous
Nursing Mother or Wet Nurse with Baby and Tea Set/Two Women Sleeping Together
$850
Anonymous - Japanese Man and Son
Anonymous
Japanese Man and Son
$750
Anonymous - Japanese Man in Traditional Garb Holding Another Ambrotype of His Portrait in Western-Style Clothing
Anonymous
Japanese Man in Traditional Garb Holding Another Ambrotype of His Portrait in Western-Style Clothing
$3,000
Anonymous (Japan) - Japanese Man with Umbrella
Anonymous (Japan)
Japanese Man with Umbrella
$450
E. Brown - Perry Expedition to Japan of Photographer with Camera
E. Brown
Perry Expedition to Japan of Photographer with Camera
$200
By Matt Damsker

Von Stillfried--Seated Geisha with Fan

Thanks in large measure to the Prussian East Asia Expedition of 1861-62, along with other government-funded journeys to the East, images of Japanese culture were brought to the Western world in all their formal splendor, and none of that imagery was more powerful than the first flowerings of photography in Japan. As Sebastian Dobson and his co-researchers chronicled in their definitive study of the Prussian expedition, "Under Eagle Eyes," 19th century Japanese photography was largely a matter of European masters of the medium discovering--and doing justice to--a deeply traditional new subject for their cameras.

Thus, this photo exhibit is rich in the works of such seminal photographers as Felice Beato and Baron Raymond von Stillfried, who captured dignified images of upper-class Japanese family life and portraits of the privileged, many of them hand-colored to bring a level of high-craft realism to their wet-plate albumen prints. In addition, the classic physicality of Sumo wrestlers and other touchstones of Japanese culture brought a kinetic charge to these early photographs, but the pedigreed work of Beato and his contemporaries don't tell the whole story.

That is because some of the most interesting of these exhibits are the anonymous ambrotypes that survive. Similar in subject matter to the attributed treasures, these images bear more wear-and-tear of time, but their muted, marked presence is rich in antique charm and compositional grace. In addition, the work of Japan's own early photographic masters, such as Uchida Kuichi, are excellent examples of the native artistry that would flourish as photography's European origin and techniques were quickly absorbed by enterprising Japanese aspirants.

Indeed, photography was an art form especially suited to the richly visual and carefully detailed dichotomies of 19th-century Japanese life, which balanced the rugged earthiness of the island's landscape with its peoples' great delicacy of design in architecture, clothing, and manufacturing. Japan's cultural complexity--in everything from class distinction to the subtleties of its ornamentation--is as much on display here as the impressive technique of these known and unknown photographers. If anything, these images convey the timelessness of many Japanese modes (the nation retains, after all, an everyday traditionalism that most other world cultures have sacrificed to modernity), and we can see it with utter clarity in these vintage prints.

19th-Century Japanese Photography
About This Exhibit
Image List

Exhibited and Sold By
Contemporary Works / Vintage Works, Ltd.

258 Inverness Circle
Chalfont, Pennsylvania   18914   USA

Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith

Email info@vintageworks.net

Phone +1-215-822-5662

Call for an Appointment

 

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