Kusakabe Kimbei

Japonaise sous l'orage

About this photograph

Japan, about 1875.If colour photography was first viewed on a grand - scale after 1905, Japanese photographers, as this astonishing image shows, had already requested talented painters to watercolor each of their albumen prints. In addition, Kimbei here invents ingenious studio ' special effects ': he imitates the rain and the wind by directly striating the negative and by tensing the threads moving the material of the kimono of this beautiful Japanese woman, who is at the mercy of a reconstructed storm.

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The artist
Kusakabe Kimbei

Kusakabe Kimbei (1841-1934), one of the most accomplished Japanese photographers of his time, ran a studio in Yokohama from the early 1880 s until 1913. Kusakabe Kimbei worked with Felice Beato and Baron Raimund von Stillfried as an assistant photographer colourist before opening his own workshop in the Bentendori area of Yokohama in 1881. He also opened a branch in the Ginza area of Tokyo. As Baron von Stillfried’s protégé, Kusakabe Kimbei continued the tradition of studio portraits and took shots of the country while he developed his own Japanese sense of photography. Likened today to postcards, his work was collected by tourists and exported for sale as curiosities to those who could not visit Japan. He stopped working as a photographer in 1912-1913.

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