19th century color photos from Japan

19th century color photos from Japan
International Photography Grant 2019

From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Japanese photographers were doing amazing things with color.

Before the turn of the 20th century, photographers in Japan were masterfully experimenting with the use of color. The images of the era, filled with blushing cherry blossoms and azure kimonos, predated the advent of actual color photography. Instead, the medium employed hand-tinting — or “colorizing” — turning otherwise sepia-toned prints into portraits and landscapes bursting with pale pinks and light blues.

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Ogawa Kazumasa, “A Damsel – Maiko cherry blossom time” (circa 1890), albumin paper, colored, 27 x 20.6 cm (© National Museums in Berlin, Ethnological Museum, all images courtesy of Berlin State Museums)

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Kusakabe Kimbei, “Geisha, penning a letter” (around 1885), albumen paper colored, 26.1 x 20.6 cm (© National Museums in Berlin, art library)

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Photographer unknown, “Tokyo, gardens with Geisha” (1885), albumen paper, colored, 19.8 x 26.2 cm (© Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage)

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Felice Beato, “Senior official with his wife” (around 1870), albumin paper, colored, 13.4 x approx. 19.1 cm/ 19.6 x 24.5 cm (© National Museums in Berlin, art library)

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Photographer unknown, “Sakura at Edo in Tokyo” (circa 1910), salted paper, colored, 12 x 29.4 cm (© National Museums in Berlin, Ethnological Museum)

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Y. Isawa, “Hiroshima, Miyajima. Itsukushima Shrine” (September 1896 or earlier), Albumin paper, colored, 20.5 x 26.2 cm/ 31.6 x 38.9 cm (© National Museums in Berlin, art library)

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Photographer unknown, “Flowering cherry trees” (circa 1890), albumin paper colored, 43.2 x 53.5 cm (© National Museums in Berlin, Ethnological Museum)

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International Photography Grant 2019