Felice Beato Felix

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Beato Felice Beato

(1832 – 29 January 1909)

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also known as Felix Beato, was an Italian–British photographer. He was one of the first people to take photographs in East Asia and one of the first war photographers. He is noted for his genre works, portraits, and views and panoramas of the architecture and landscapes of Asia and the Mediterranean region. Beato's travels gave him the opportunity to create images of countries, people, and events that were unfamiliar and remote to most people in Europe and North America. His work provides images of such events as the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Second Opium War, and represents the first substantial oeuvre of photojournalism. He had an impact on other photographers, and his influence in Japan, where he taught and worked with numerous other photographers and artists, was particularly deep and lasting.

By 1863 Beato had moved to Yokohama, Japan, joining Charles Wirgman, with whom he had travelled from Bombay to Hong Kong. The two formed and maintained a partnership called "Beato & Wirgman, Artists and Photographers" during the years 1864–1867, one of the earliest and most important[ commercial studios in Japan. Wirgman again produced illustrations derived from Beato's photographs, while Beato photographed some of Wirgman's sketches and other works. (Beato's photographs were also used for engravings within Aimé Humbert's Le Japon illustré and other works.)

Beato's Japanese photographs include portraits, genre works, landscapes, cityscapes, and a series of photographs documenting the scenery and sites along the Tōkaidō Road, the latter series recalling the ukiyo-e of Hiroshige and Hokusai. During this period, foreign access to (and within) the country was greatly restricted by the Shogunate. Accompanying ambassadorial delegations[30] and taking any other opportunities created by his personal popularity and close relationship with the British military, Beato reached areas of Japan where few westerners had ventured, and in addition to conventionally pleasing subjects sought sensational and macabre subject matter such as heads on display after decapitation.
His images are remarkable not only for their quality, but also for their rarity as photographic views of Edo period Japan.

Samurai of the Satsuma clan, during the Boshin War period

The greater part of Beato's work in Japan contrasted strongly with his earlier work in India and China, which "had underlined and even celebrated conflict and the triumph of British imperial might". Aside from the Portrait of Prince Kung, any appearances of Chinese people in Beato's earlier work had been peripheral (minor, blurred, or both) or as corpses. With the exception of his work in September 1864 as an official photographer on the British military expedition to Shimonoseki, Beato was eager to portray Japanese people, and did so uncondescendingly, even showing them as defiant in the face of the elevated status of westerners.

Beato was very active while in Japan. In 1865 he produced a number of dated views of Nagasaki and its surroundings. From 1866 he was often caricatured in Japan Punch, which was founded and edited by Wirgman. In an October 1866 fire that destroyed much of Yokohama, Beato lost his studio and many, perhaps all, of his negatives.

While Beato was the first photographer in Japan to sell albums of his works, he quickly recognised their full commercial potential. By around 1870 their sale had become the mainstay of his business. Although the customer would select the content of earlier albums, Beato moved toward albums of his own selection. It was probably Beato who introduced to photography in Japan the double concept of views and costumes/manners, an approach common in photography of the Mediterranean. By 1868 Beato had readied two volumes of photographs, "Native Types", containing 100 portraits and genre works, and "Views of Japan", containing 98 landscapes and cityscapes.

Many of the photographs in Beato's albums were hand-coloured, a technique that in his studio successfully applied the refined skills of Japanese watercolourists and woodblock printmakers to European photography.

Since about the time of the ending of his partnership with Wirgman in 1869, Beato attempted to retire from the work of a photographer, instead attempting other ventures and delegating photographic work to others within his own studio in Yokohama, "F. Beato & Co., Photographers", which he ran with an assistant named H. Woollett and four Japanese photographers and four Japanese artists. Kusakabe Kimbei was probably one of Beato's artist-assistants before becoming a photographer in his own right. But these other ventures would fail, and Beato's photographic skills and personal popularity would ensure that he could successfully return to work as a photographer.

Beato photographed with Ueno Hikoma, and possibly taught photography to Raimund von Stillfried.
Felice Beato with Saigo Tsugumichi (both seated in front), with foreign friends. Photograph by Hugues Krafft in 1882.

In 1871 Beato served as official photographer with the United States naval expedition of Admiral Rodgers to Korea. Although it is possible that an unidentified Frenchman photographed Korea during the 1866 invasion of Ganghwa Island, Beato's photographs are the earliest of Korea whose provenance is clear.

Beato's business ventures in Japan were numerous. He owned land and several studios, was a property consultant, had a financial interest in the Grand Hotel of Yokohama, and was a dealer in imported carpets and women's bags, among other things. He also appeared in court on several occasions, variously as plaintiff, defendant, and witness. On 6 August 1873 Beato was appointed Consul General for Greece in Japan.

In 1877 Beato sold most of his stock to the firm Stillfried & Andersen, who then moved into his studio. In turn, Stillfried & Andersen sold the stock to Adolfo Farsari in 1885. Following the sale to Stillfried & Andersen, Beato apparently retired for some years from photography, concentrating on his parallel career as a financial speculator and trader. On 29 November 1884 he left Japan, ultimately landing in Port Said, Egypt. It was reported in a Japanese newspaper that he had lost all his money on the Yokohama silver exchange.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

- source : wikipedia Japan


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Beato in Yokohama
Beato resided in Yokohama for 21 years, the longest period he worked in a single place. Through his camera, he captured the transitional period between the feudal governance of the Edo period (1600–1868) and the imperial rule of the Meiji era (1868–1912) with memorable portraits, landscapes, and genre scenes. (Go to Chronology for more details of Beato's life and work.)
“Photographic Views of Japan with Historical and Descriptive Notes”
When he arrived in Japan in 1863, Beato brought with him a considerable inventory of photographs and negatives. Unfortunately, these plus the negatives he initially made in Japan were lost in a fire that swept through Yokohama and destroyed much of the city in 1866. Between 1866 and 1868, Beato worked feverishly to rebuild his stock and reestablish his livelihood. After producing hundreds of negatives, he selected a suite of photographs which he published with descriptions under the collective title Photographic Views of Japan with Historical and Descriptive Notes shortly after the overthrow of the feudal regime in 1868. The complete set survives in some collections, but often the images have been disassembled.

This handsome album established a British view of “Japan” for the West. Each albumen print has a satin sheen. (For more about albumin prints, go to Photographic Terms.) The print is mounted on heavy paper to keep the thin photographic paper from curling inward after development. Almost every photograph is accompanied by a brief descriptive caption written by James W. Murray to provide an interpretive label for the viewer. The description is mounted on the opposite page and printed with distinctive type within an elegant border. When viewers turned each page of the large bound albums, they encountered not only a beautiful landscape, portrait, or scene of everyday life, but also a presumedly authoritative commentary on the subject depicted.

These captions are of particular interest today not only for the stories they tell, but also for the odd and old-fashioned ways in which many Japanese names and words are “romanized.” They also contain many factual errors that reveal the rudimentary level of foreign knowledge of Japan at this early stage in the nation's new relationship with the West. (The captions have been reproduced without correction here.)
Commemorative Albums & Tourism
Albums were introduced very early into the practice of photography. The albums often were bound like books, with embossed titles printed on the cover or spine. Covers were made of leather, fabric, or carved wood. In Japan, they also included lacquer with elaborate inlays. Photographers assigned to the British military expeditions often created albums for the officers to commemorate their battles. Beato created his first such keepsake album for officers who fought in the Crimean War. Often the albums were sent to their families and friends in advance of the officers’ return to Britain as a way of communicating the complexity of their lives and display of bravery for their country. Such albums, sometimes displayed in lyceums, fed a hungry public with images long after battles were fought.
Coloring Black-&-White Originals
In the two-volume Photographic Views of Japan, landscapes and points of interest comprise the first volume and are presented in black-and-white albumen prints. In the second volume, reproduced here, the albumen portraits and genre scenes of everyday life were colored by hand.

Beato colored the photographs using several methods. The tonal shades of velvety blacks, reddish-browns, and purples were controlled through the interaction of developer chemicals and the albumen paper. To achieve more vivid colors, artisans applied watercolors to the completed print. The usual hand-applied colors were green, blue, red, and yellow. Templates were cut to to ensure consistency when painting watercolors on multiple prints from the same negative.

Charles Wirgman (1832–1891), Beato’s journalist friend and business partner, initially painted the photographs with watercolor. Shortly after Wirgman and Beato began partnering in the studio, however, Japanese watercolor artists were contracted for this service. Beato had a ready supply of colorists from the skilled craftsmen who had been trained to color woodblocks for traditional woodcut prints. With color photographs, Beato hoped to appeal to the prevailing taste already established by Japanese woodblock prints.
Photographs & Captions
This portrait of “Girl Playing the Samisen” acquires additional meaning with Murray’s descriptive caption, in which he writes about the instrument and the role of music in the training of young women. As he tells it, the instrument is the equivalent of the guitar, thus establishing for the viewer a comparative model. Murray continues with a description of how the samisen is “played with a flat piece of wood, or ivory, or horn, and seldom struck with the fingers,” and goes on to impose his own Western standards by characterizing its sound as “wild and harsh” and the woman’s voice as “by no means pleasant to the ear.” These girls are “studious and diligent, and music is part of their overall education,” he states, but there is a “wonderful absence of any approach to harmony in the airs played by even the most carefully taught.”
Models & “Types”
The “Views of Japan” reproduced in this unit represent portraits selected from Beato’s wide-ranging opus and sold as a group by the photographer. This particular album, held by the Smith College Museum of Art, contains 50 images formerly bound in a green linen cover with the printed title, now absent, in the center of the cover. Although each photograph is different, the viewer may discern certain resemblances in the physical characteristics of the sitters. Beato usually hired his sitters and dressed them in appropriate attire for his studio photographs. The models for “Mr. Shōjirō” and “Our Painter” could almost be the same person, for example, although their descriptions differ greatly. In both images, the model holds instruments of trade in his hands. Mr. Shōjirō holds “that ingenious little calculating table of his …,” the soroban, or abacus. The painter stands in front of his portfolio of prints while holding his palette and brush. “A bit of a roué is our painter,” Murray states, “much given to wine, and not insensible to the charms of singing girls. A good creature on the whole…. ”
Crime & Punishment
To some degree, the violence Beato captured in his earlier non-Japanese war photographs is evident in Views of Japan. During its transitional years as a treaty port, the Yokohama settlement was not entirely safe for foreigners. Often travel outside the confines of the settlement was not permitted or required hired guards. The two photographs that conclude the Smith College Museum of Art album, depicting “The Executioner” and “The Execution,” are vivid reminders of the harshness of the times. Beato staged a studio portrait for the former, a nameless executioner with sword raised ready to decapitate a criminal.
“The Executioner” (detail)
The album concludes with two Beato photographs of violence. The caption accompanying this photo suggests that it depicts an actual execution ground. It was, in fact, staged in Beato’s studio.

By contrast, “The Execution” is an outdoor shot without imaginary props, depicting a crucified criminal and several severed heads on display. Murray’s description, one of the lengthiest in the album, serves several purposes. It describes not only the execution scene but the multiple ways in which executions were performed—crucifixion, beheading, or forced suicide. When the traveler returned home to share Beato’s photographs and Murray’s texts, he or she came away with a final impression of barbarism—an image that would have a substantial and pernicious afterlife in later foreign representations.
Tourism & the Western Image of Japan
With images such as these, Beato’s pioneer photographs helped consolidate the impressions of Japan held by many Westerners. Perusing such albums, the viewer was able to safely travel the byways of Japan and—supposedly—witness daily life. These graphics and their captions created an iconic image of Japan that would survive the sale of Beato’s studio in 1877 and even the photographer’s death in 1908. With his genre scenes, Beato provided a window on an exotic country interpreted through the lens of Western culture. Such albums became mementos for tourists and, for those who would never have the luxury of visiting, a bound collection of highly selected and filtered knowledge.
- source : ocw.mit.edu/ans7870


curio shop

- - - Gallery of his photos - Beato's Japan: People
- source : ocw.mit.edu/ans


Rokubu priest, 1867, carrying his portable altar
Photo by Felice Beato, around 1668

The rokubu was an itinerant priest who traveled to restore fertility to barren women, carrying his tools on his back.

. . 六十六部 Rokujurokubu, 六部 Rokubu Pilgrims .


- Reference - フェリーチェ・ベアト -
- Reference - English -


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