Cherry Flower of Koganei (Nearly Tokyo)


Hand coloured albumen print
(Not attributed)
Circa 1880

D. 20,2 x 26,2 cm

Video presentation



This photograph is a print on albumen paper enhanced with colour, typical of the production of the Yokohama school, which was very popular in Japan at the end of the 19th century.

Although the use of colour, so typical of Japanese photography, was initially intended to be documentary, it is now widely used for its aesthetic qualities and contributes to the originality of Japanese production. Hand-coloured, these photographs bear witness to a specific know-how, and the translucent colours are obtained from pigments mixed with bone glue (nikawa). This technique is particularly suited to the paper used for the print, whose main component is albumen. This warm-toned paper is particularly suited to the technique used for the colouring, whose translucent aspect reinforces the naturalism of the representation.

This outdoor scene is built around cherry blossoms, which lend a bucolic charm to this view, composed according to the codes of European picturesque exoticism to satisfy foreign demand.

The photographs of this period are often the work of photographers’ studios, first foreign, then local, who accumulate picturesque views of the country, its landscapes and traditions, for foreigners. Indeed, the Westerners’ taste for exoticism conditioned the subjects selected by the photographers.

The distant vanishing point gives real depth to the image, while the foreground is occupied by a cherry tree in bloom whose branches spread out above a jinrikisha, a Japanese vehicle pulled by the strength of a man.

Condition report:

Good condition, old creases visible in the upper left corner. On the reverse, there is a small piece of paper glued against the edge for reinforcement.