Hand-colored Japanese Albumen Prints 1880-1900
In the first photographic group, early, hand-colored albumen prints by Japanese photographic artists depict a formalized, delicately beautiful portrait of traditional Japanese culture in the last years of the 19th century.
The first daguerreotype cameras came to Japan through the Dutch trading post Dejima located in the Nagasaki Bay around the middle of the nineteenth century. The trading post’s physician offered instruction in photography and wrote the first manuals for the Japanese on the use of the camera and photographic techniques.
The introduction of photography and modern printing methods to Japan in the nineteenth-century precipitated the decline in popularity of ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The themes already known from woodblock prints were taken up in photography, and the artisans who had formerly worked with color printing-blocks applied their skills in the careful addition of colors to albumen photographs. Both ukiyo-e and photography also served as souvenirs of the vivid images of traditional Japan. Yet, while the former were intended to represent the fleeting and transient, the latter were tangible reminders of the visual world of late nineteenth-century Japan.
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