Chuzenji Lake at Nikko


Hand coloured albumen print
Kusakabe Kimbei
Circa 1880
Cartboard dimension 25 x 31,5 cm

Photograph dimension 20 x 25,5 cm

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Attributed to the prestigious studio of Kusakabe Kimbei (1841-1934), this photograph bears witness to the flourishing production of coloured albumen prints during the Meiji era. Kusakabe Kimbei was one of the most renowned photographers of the Yokohama school. His studio was one of the most prosperous in the last years of the 19th century. Initially trained by Felice Beato and Raimund von Stillfried, two European photographers who had settled in Japan, he was influenced by the aestheticism of the colourised views that these two photographers were largely responsible for popularising. In 1880, he opened his own studio in Yokohama, and was able to buy Beato’s collection, which is why it is difficult to attribute a photograph to him with certainty. His studio was a great commercial success, especially thanks to the views embodying a dreamed Japan, and intended to be collected by European travellers.

Initially a sacred place of Buddhism and Shinto, Lake Chuzenji, located in Nikko, became a popular holiday destination during the Meiji era. At the foot of the mountains, the lake appeared during the short period of activity of what was once a volcano. Lake tourism developed with the arrival of the Meiji emperor, as well as fishing activity with the introduction of many species of fish at the end of the 19th century. Western diplomats visited in large numbers, and the site became an international tourist resort in the early 20th century.

Photographers took views of the site to produce souvenir photographs for Westerners, who visited for pleasure. These photographs quickly found their way into Western collections, as they were produced for European and American clients.

Condition report: This photograph is in good condition.