Explorations of Late 19th-Century Japanese Photography

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    Anonymous. '682 Kasuga Temple Avenue at Nara.' Japan, Meiji period (1868–1912), 1880–1900. Albumen print. Gift of James H. Soong, 2016 (2016-45-01).

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    Tamamura Kōzaburō (1856–1923). 'No. 423 Noge Yama Cherry Blossoms.' Japan, Meiji period (1868–1912), 1880–1900. Albumen print. Gift of James H. Soong, 2016 (2016-45-13b).

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June 22, 2017 - August 20, 2017
Honolulu Museum of Art


Exhibition Overview

The introduction of photography was a pivotal moment in the modernization of Japanese art at the end of the 19th century. The size and appearance of photographs resembled traditional Japanese woodblock prints in many ways, but otherwise, these two media were fundamentally different. 

“The Japanese prints and paintings known as ukiyo-e…richly exploited the potential of color, shape and line. But deep dimensional space and the gradation of light and shadow, in short, the ‘truth’ captured in a photograph, produced a compelling kind of image,” wrote Robert Stearns in Photography and beyond in Japan: Space, Time and Memory (1995).

In an attempt to replicate the vibrancy of polychromatic woodblock prints (nishiki-e), some of the early pioneers of Japanese photography, including Felice Beato (1832–1909) and Charles Wirgman (1832–1891), both foreigners living in Yokohama, popularized the production of albumen prints. 

This rotation features newly accessioned works from the collection of James H. Soong.

Made possible by the Robert F. Lange Foundation.