Yokohama: Izumiya Ichibei, 1861. Item #400
Coloured woodblock print. 37x24,5 cm. Printed artist’s name stamp ‘Issen Yoshikazu ga’, title and date on the right margin. Paper slightly age toned and soiled on extremities, otherwise a very good print.
The print depicts ‘‘a photographer wearing western clothing adjusting a camera beneath a shroud; a woman stands behind him, also wearing western clothing, holding a plate or a photograph, also, photographic supplies are on a small table between them’’ (Library of Congress). Most likely, the photographer is Felice (Felix) Beato who became one of the most famous western photographers in Japan through his work there in 1863-83. Beato became the official photographer of the British military expedition to Simonoseki in 1864, and to the United States naval expedition of Admiral Rodgers to Korea in 1871; he was the first photographer to sell albums of photographs on the Japanese market, and taught a number of Japanese photographers, including
‘‘Yokohama was a particularly active base for foreign photographers in Japan. The British photographer William Saunders, who had previously been located in Beijing, ran a studio there during the summer and fall of 1862, where he produced and sold not only portraits, but also scenes of Edo, Yokohama, and Kamakura. In the spring of the following year, Felix Beato, an Italian-born British citizen, and Charles Parker, an Englishman, separately arrived in Japan, where they worked in part as photojournalists, documenting the various military conflicts that were then occurring between Japan and Western nations. Beato was a particularly important figure, remaining active in Yokohama into the 1880s. In addition to portraits, he produced many photographs of Japanese people and landscapes for the foreign market, and he trained a number of second-generation Japanese photographers, including Kusakabe Kimbei’’ (The History of Japanese photography: Exhibition Catalogue/ Tucker, A., and others).