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Imaging Japan in Illustrated Newspapers: The Role of Photography in Visualizing the Japanese Embassy in the United States, 1860


Jungmann, Stella (2018). Imaging Japan in Illustrated Newspapers: The Role of Photography in Visualizing the Japanese Embassy in the United States, 1860. PhotoResearcher, 30:33-47.

Abstract

The June 6,1860 issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper gives an account on photographer Mathew Brady taking photographs and Frank Leslie's artist sketching diplomatic presents brought by the Japanese embassy (fig. l).1 This image is one of roughly fifty-five illustrations in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper reporting on the visit of seventy-seven Japanese samurai, the so-called Man'en Gannen Mission, who were sent to the United States in 1860 to re-sign the Harris Treaty in Washington D.C. The image depicts the interior of the Willard's Hotel reception room, the residence of the diplomats during their stay in Washington. It portrays a group of Japanese men with simple robes and a topknot who seem to be packing and unpacking presents, some of them carrying or crouching in front of boxes. The three men in the back, who by their beards, longtail coats, and waistcoats can be identified as American, are concerned with the photographic shot: the figure mostly covered by the large camera, pointing forwards, is the famed photographer Mathew Brady himself. The man on his left appears to open the shutter to let more daylight in for the photographic shot. The man behind the camera - perhaps Alexander Gardner - is eyeing the model, in this case, the saddle "richly embroidered with gold and silver,"2 one of the Japanese gifts presented to President James Buchanan. This object is sat on a cloth-covered table. On the right-hand side underneath the oval mirror, in front of the mantle, on which a top hat has been placed, the newspaper's artist sketches as a Japanese observer gazes over his shoulder. Two viewers in the left corner are watching, taking on the role of the Frank Leslie's reader viewing the image, as the "spectacle" unfolds. In fact, the whole engraving is reminiscent of a theatrical display, only accentuated by the arched top corners, the curtains in the background, the framing lines dissolving towards the bottom.

Abstract

The June 6,1860 issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper gives an account on photographer Mathew Brady taking photographs and Frank Leslie's artist sketching diplomatic presents brought by the Japanese embassy (fig. l).1 This image is one of roughly fifty-five illustrations in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper reporting on the visit of seventy-seven Japanese samurai, the so-called Man'en Gannen Mission, who were sent to the United States in 1860 to re-sign the Harris Treaty in Washington D.C. The image depicts the interior of the Willard's Hotel reception room, the residence of the diplomats during their stay in Washington. It portrays a group of Japanese men with simple robes and a topknot who seem to be packing and unpacking presents, some of them carrying or crouching in front of boxes. The three men in the back, who by their beards, longtail coats, and waistcoats can be identified as American, are concerned with the photographic shot: the figure mostly covered by the large camera, pointing forwards, is the famed photographer Mathew Brady himself. The man on his left appears to open the shutter to let more daylight in for the photographic shot. The man behind the camera - perhaps Alexander Gardner - is eyeing the model, in this case, the saddle "richly embroidered with gold and silver,"2 one of the Japanese gifts presented to President James Buchanan. This object is sat on a cloth-covered table. On the right-hand side underneath the oval mirror, in front of the mantle, on which a top hat has been placed, the newspaper's artist sketches as a Japanese observer gazes over his shoulder. Two viewers in the left corner are watching, taking on the role of the Frank Leslie's reader viewing the image, as the "spectacle" unfolds. In fact, the whole engraving is reminiscent of a theatrical display, only accentuated by the arched top corners, the curtains in the background, the framing lines dissolving towards the bottom.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Art History
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:21 Dec 2018 14:16
Last Modified:24 Sep 2019 23:58
Publisher:European Society for the History of Photography
ISSN:0958-2606
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Related URLs:https://www.recherche-portal.ch/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=TN_proquest2133401598&context=PC&vid=ZAD&search_scope=Primo_Central&tab=primo_central&lang=de_DE (Library Catalogue)

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