A stunning collection of Japanese Art

Japanese art captures thousands of years of culture in paintings, woodblock prints and poetry reaching its pinnacle during the Edo Period. It wasn't until the late 19th century when a new art form was able to capture Japanese art and culture like never before. The introduction of photography to Japan during the Meiji restoration revealed a mysterious and fascinating world to the West. Our collection of hand-painted albumen prints bring to life the beauty of Meiji period (明治維新) old Japan including photos of samurai, geisha, artisans, royalty and stunning landscapes of the Japanese countryside, temples and villages. Every one of the 19th century antique Japanese prints in our collection have been scanned at high resolution and can be ordered as high quality Japanese art prints, posters, stationary, wall art and more from our Redbubble store.

The people of Japan - Geisha to the last Samurai

Discover the people of Japan from the last samurai warriors to beautiful geisha in our remarkable collection of Yokohama studio portraits

The places of Japan - Temples to Teahouses

It could be said that the beautiful temples in Japan represent the birthplace of Japanese art and culture. The introduction Buddhism to Japan during the 6th century connected Japan to China and brought with it a writing system and new technologies and techniques for art production.

The landscapes of Japan - Scenery to City

Cherry blossoms falling from delicate trees, mountainous landscapes and crashing waves tell the story of Japan's rich history though Japanese art. The albumen prints of landscapes in our collection bring to life many of the scenes so often depicted in Japanese woodblock prints and poetry. 

High quality Japanese wall art

ORIGINAL ANtique ALBUMEN PRINTS OF THE MEIJI PERIOD - JAPANESE ART FOR SALE

All photographs in the collection are original antique 19th century hand-painted Japanese art prints of old Japan which have been scanned at high resolution to ensure prints and reproductions of the photos are of the highest quality. After each photograph is scanned, the high resolution image is then uploaded to our Redbubble store to be ordered as high quality photo prints, posters, canvas prints, wall art and a variety of other products. By using quality images, our Japanese prints can be ordered up to 20" x 24.7" for photo prints and a massive 33.2" x 40.9" for posters.

Meiji Period Japan 1868 - 1912
(明治維新 Meiji Ishin)

The political revolution in 1868 brought about the demise of the Tokugawa shogunate thus ending the Edo period. Control of Japan was then returned to imperial rule under Mutsuhito, the Emperor Meiji. After 200 years of isolation, Japan had just opened its doors to the west in 1854 and shortly after a remarkable new invention, photography. Uchida Kuichi is famous for his photographs of the Meiji Emperor and Empress becoming the first photographer allowed to photograph the Emperor in 1872. These albumen prints were later used as official public portraits.

Meiji Emperor (明治天皇) 1852-1912

photographed by Uchida Kuichi, 1872

At the time of Meiji's birth in 1852, Japan was an isolated, pre-industrial, feudal country dominated by the Tokugawa shogunate and the daimyōs, who ruled over the country's more than 250 independent domains. By the time of his death in 1912, Japan had undergone a political, social, and industrial revolution at home and emerged as one of the great powers of the early 20th century. 

Empress Shōken (昭憲皇后) 1849-1914

photographed by Uchida Kuichi, 1873

From 1886, the Empress and her entourage wore only Western style clothes in public. In 1887, she issued a memorandum on the subject declaring that traditional Japanese dress was not only unsuited to modern life, but that Western style dress more closely resembled clothes worn by Japanese women in ancient times than the kimono.

Yokohama harbour

A WESTERN INFLUENCE

After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the port of Yokohama was developed for trading primarily in silk with Great Britain. Western influence had contributed to the establishment of Japan's first railway and newspaper with Yokohama becoming the home of Japan's first photographic studios producing hand-painted Japanese prints.

Gion machi, Kyoto, Japan

OLD JAPAN IN CONTRAST

Outside of the major cities, Japan remained largely unchanged. The isolation of Japan only a decade before preserved a rich and traditional culture in its ancient cities, villages and temples. Japanese and European photographers captured the striking contrast between traditional Japan and an emerging modern power.

The Art of Japanese Photography

After 1868 several photography studios opened in Japan including that of Uchida Kuichi in 1865 in Osaka, Yohei Hori in Kyoto, and in 1866 Kōkichi Kizu opened his studio in Hakodate, Rihei Tomishige in Yanagawa, as well as Chikugo and Yokoyama Matsusaburō.

From around 1860 to 1900, Yokohama-shashin (Japanese albumen prints sold in Yokohama) became very popular. These photographs depicting Japanese landscapes, people and culture were popular souvenirs for tourists at the time. Among the most famous photographers for Yokohama-shashin were Felix Beato (1832-1909) and Kusakabe Kimbei (1841–1934). 

Albumen Prints

The albumen print, also known as an albumen silver print, was the first method of mass producing a photographic print on paper from a negative. A key ingredient used in the process of creating these Japanese prints was the albumen found in egg whites which bound the photographic chemicals to paper. Becoming the dominant form of photographic positives from 1855 and peaking in the Meiji period (明治維新) of Japan between the 1860s and 1890s.