Category Archives: 19th century Japan

Hand tinted Japanese Photograph Album

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I have purchased dozens of hand-tinted Japanese photograph albums and the one I am posting today is by far the best I have ever owned. This album is in excellent condition with 100 images in lacquer covers. The photographs are in excellent condition with the exception of possibly 5. This album by Kusakabe Kimbei dates to around 1880 when he opened his studio at 36 Benten Dori Nichome in Yokohama, Japan.

Kimbei worked for and studied with Felice Beato and Baron Raimund von Stillfried, the two most important European professional photographers in 19th century Japan. As a colorist and photographer his work is considered to be the best of the Meiji era. By the turn of the century Kimbei’s studio was the largest in Japan.

The photographs are beautifully hand-tinted albumen prints.

The albumen print, also called albumen silver print, was invented in 1850 by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard, and was the first commercially exploitable method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative. It used the albumen found in egg whites to bind the photographic chemicals to the paper and became the dominant form of photographic positives from 1855 to the turn of the 20th century, with a peak in the 1860-90 period. (Wikipedia)