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Historical Period: Meiji period (1868-1912)
Object Name: Photograph album
Materials: Hand-colored albumen silver prints
Dimensions: H. 12 5/8 in x W. 16 in x D. 3 5/8 in, H. 32.1 cm x W. 40.6 cm x D. 9.2 cm
Credit Line: Transferred from Asian Art Museum Library Special Collections
Department: Japanese Art
Collection: Photography
Object Number: 2007.7
On Display: No

Description

Label:

[Note: The label below refers to two photographs in this album: "Coolie Smoking Tobacco" and "A Rope Dancer"]

Kusakabe Kimbei was one of the most accomplished Japanese photographers of his time. He first worked as an assistant photo-colorist and learned photography as an apprentice to Baron von Stillfried, an Austrian who worked in Japan from 1872 to 1883. From 1880 until 1914 Kimbei operated a studio in Yokohama with a branch in Tokyo. After von Stillfried left Japan, Kimbei acquired many of his glass-plate negatives as well as platesof the well-known Felice Beato (1833 or 1834–approx. 1907), who took early photographs all over Asia, and of a few important Japanese photographers. Kimbei reprinted the work of these photographers along with his own and included them in his albums. This album consists of photographs that captured a variety of subjects. It includes studio portraits of Japanese women posed for picturesque activities—often reflecting earlier compositions of paintings and prints known as ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the floating world" (as seen in the photograph on this label)—as well as men of various occupations, particularly entertainers like this "rope dancer."

Considering the long exposures necessary for early photography, the setting seen here is ingenious, with the figure on the ground probably seated and the dancer himself leaning against some unseen support. The techniques the Japanese developed for the subtle coloring of photographs make these prints even more appealing. What is evident when looking at Japanese studio photographs from the 1880s (some photographs in this album are dated Meiji 20, which corresponds to 1888) is that the groups of people depicted—of various social, ethnic, and work backgrounds—appear to be costumed actors; the "coolie" seems right out of central casting in Hollywood. Often props and rustic settings add a sense of authenticity. Earlier photographs tended to be fully ethnographic—pictures of various peoples native to the lands where they were photographed—and those subjects often appear more self-conscious and less engaged with the camera than subjects in later photos.


More Information

Exhibition History: "Photographic Memories" Rotation 1 (Tateuchi Gallery, March 13, 2009 - August 30, 2009) and "Photographic Memories" Rotation 2 (Tateuchi Gallery, August 27, 2009 - January 17, 2010)
Label:

[Note: The label below refers to two photographs in this album: "Coolie Smoking Tobacco" and "A Rope Dancer"]

Kusakabe Kimbei was one of the most accomplished Japanese photographers of his time. He first worked as an assistant photo-colorist and learned photography as an apprentice to Baron von Stillfried, an Austrian who worked in Japan from 1872 to 1883. From 1880 until 1914 Kimbei operated a studio in Yokohama with a branch in Tokyo. After von Stillfried left Japan, Kimbei acquired many of his glass-plate negatives as well as platesof the well-known Felice Beato (1833 or 1834–approx. 1907), who took early photographs all over Asia, and of a few important Japanese photographers. Kimbei reprinted the work of these photographers along with his own and included them in his albums. This album consists of photographs that captured a variety of subjects. It includes studio portraits of Japanese women posed for picturesque activities—often reflecting earlier compositions of paintings and prints known as ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the floating world" (as seen in the photograph on this label)—as well as men of various occupations, particularly entertainers like this "rope dancer."

Considering the long exposures necessary for early photography, the setting seen here is ingenious, with the figure on the ground probably seated and the dancer himself leaning against some unseen support. The techniques the Japanese developed for the subtle coloring of photographs make these prints even more appealing. What is evident when looking at Japanese studio photographs from the 1880s (some photographs in this album are dated Meiji 20, which corresponds to 1888) is that the groups of people depicted—of various social, ethnic, and work backgrounds—appear to be costumed actors; the "coolie" seems right out of central casting in Hollywood. Often props and rustic settings add a sense of authenticity. Earlier photographs tended to be fully ethnographic—pictures of various peoples native to the lands where they were photographed—and those subjects often appear more self-conscious and less engaged with the camera than subjects in later photos.


Exhibition History: "Photographic Memories" Rotation 1 (Tateuchi Gallery, March 13, 2009 - August 30, 2009) and "Photographic Memories" Rotation 2 (Tateuchi Gallery, August 27, 2009 - January 17, 2010)