Kunichika: Beauty Taking a Photograph with an Early Box Camera (Sold)

  • Sold.

Artist: Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900)
Title: The Photograph
Series: Mirror of Modern Customs and Manners 開花人情鏡
Date: 1878 (Meiji 11)

Titled “The Photograph”, we see a fashionable beauty next to a large box camera that is draped with a black cloth. As she is so close to the camera and the camera lens seems to be pointing towards the viewer, we can assume that she is assisting an unseen photographer, or is herself the photographer. In her right hand she holds something small and oval; perhaps a tool to assist with the process?  The inset cartouche seems to be imitating a wooden, western-style frame. In 1877 the number of professional photographers in Tokyo alone exceeded 100, but it is unusual to find cameras featured prominently in an ukiyo-e print from that time, as here.  Rare and exquisitely printed, with the black areas featuring the burnishing technique to create a shiny surface.

Condition: Excellent impression and color; very good condition. Backed, with small area of minor wormage near right margin.
Dimensions: ôban 35.5 x 24 cm
Literature: See Freer/Sackler Smithsonian website.
Signature: Toyoharu Kunichika fude