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It was truly an adventure to travel to Japan in the second half of the 19th century, loaded with unwieldy and heavy photographic equipment. From their Yokohama studios, the pioneers of photography in Japan, Felice Beato and Adolpho Farsari, exported unfamiliar and remarkable pictures to Europe, giving the West an idea of what life was like in ancient Japan. Their Japanese pupils established a new professional group: Images of "ancient" Japan were produced specifically for the Western public, staged in studios, later hand-colored and compiled in richly ornamented lacquer albums.
This book documents not only a unique chapter of the history of photography, but also provides insights about the way European and, later, Japanese photographers staged their image of Japan in accordance with Western expectations.
The 90 photographs of the March Collection published in this volume, many of which are being made available to the public for the first time ever, depict the vanished feudal Japan in a way unique both in its historical meaning and in its aesthetic appearance. They include rare works by Felice Beato and Adolpho Farsari and numerous pictures by their Japanese followers Ueno Hikoma, Kusabe Kinbei, Tamamura Kihei, and Ogawa Kazume. Through intensive research, it was for the first time possible to attribute several works to the artists.
Claudia Delank is a specialist in East Asian Art, teaches at various German universities, and has researched and published on early Japanese photography.