The Musée des Arts Décoratifs preserves a collection of nearly 700 handcolored
photographs of the Yokohama Shashin style, produced in Japan
from the early 1860s to the turn of the 20th century. These images depict
landscapes, monuments, every day and theatrical scenes, and portraits,
conveying a stereotypical vision of the Land of the Rising Sun.
Each photograph is individually hand-colored, allowing for a subtle and
strategically diverse range of color palettes and motifs.
Masters of the genre include Felice Beato and Raimund von Stillfried, who
worked alongside Kusakabe Kimbei, the dominant photographer of the time,
who operated from his studio in Yokohama. Kimbei produced not only prints
and objects decorated with photographs, but also silk and lacquer albums,
catering to the desires and budgets Western collectors.
These photographs, donated by Raymond Koechlin in 1903, Hugues Krafft
in 1914, and Gustave Schlumberger in 1929, serve as both collectibles and
sources of inspiration and knowledge. Many of them will be exhibited for the
first time, accompanied by a publication by Volonté d’art editions.