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Original hand-colored albumen prints of Japanese scenes, circa 1890s

Hand-colored Japanese Albumen Prints 1880-1900

Early, hand-colored albumen prints by Japanese photographic artists depict a formalized, delicately beautiful portrait of traditional Japanese culture in the last years of the 19th century.

The first daguerreotype cameras came to Japan through the Dutch trading post Dejima located in the Nagasaki Bay around the middle of the nineteenth century. The trading post’s physician offered instruction in photography and wrote the first manuals for the Japanese on the use of the camera and photographic techniques.

The introduction of photography and modern printing methods to Japan in the nineteenth-century precipitated the decline in popularity of ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The themes already known from woodblock prints were taken up in photography, and the artisans who had formerly worked with color printing-blocks applied their skills in the careful addition of colors to albumen photographs. Both ukiyo-e and photography also served as souvenirs of the vivid images of traditional Japan. Yet, while the former were intended to represent the fleeting and transient, the latter were tangible reminders of the visual world of late nineteenth-century Japan.

Albumen photographic prints were introduced around 1850 by the French photographer Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Evrard. The albumen paper was prepared by first floating a sheet of fine quality paper on a solution of albumen (hen egg white) mixed with a salt. This process was sometimes repeated several times. When dried, the albumem coated paper was floated on a silver nitrate solution. The silver nitrate combined with the salt to form light-sensitive silver chloride in the albumen binder layer. The paper can then be exposed to light in direct contact with the negative. Light energy converts the silver halide to metallic silver. The resulting silver-based image is fixed with an aqueous solution of sodium thiosulphate and gold-toned. The print is then washed extensively in clean water and dried. In a final step, albumen prints are often rewet and mounted to a heavy weight paperboard using heat and high pressure.

Albumen prints are known for their subtly graded tones and fine-grained resolution. All albumen photographs exhibit a fine network of cracks in the albumen protein layer. Also, because of the difference in surface tension between the paper and the albumen layer, albumen prints tend to roll or curl in on themselves.

 

Please click on the images below to see the entire sheet

Simogamo
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

Simogamo

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$30

Imaichi [Road], Nikko
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

Imaichi [Road], Nikko

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$30

Large Stone Front Daibutsu, Kioto
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

Large Stone Front Daibutsu, Kioto

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

CREASES AND LIGHT FOXING, SEE ENLARGEMENT

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$20

[unidentified village scene]
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

[unidentified village scene]

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

FAINT CREASES, LIGHT FOXING, DOT MID-CENTER

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$25

Monument with Balustrade
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

[unidentified Monument with Balustrade]

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

FAINT CREASES

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$25

General View of Sosui, Kioto
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

General View of Sosui, Kioto

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

CREASES, SOME FOXING, PLEASE SEE ENLARGEMENT

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$40

Front, Nikko
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

Front, Nikko

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

SOME FOXING, PLEASE SEE ENLARGEMENT

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$40

Karamon Gate [Toshogu Shrine], Nikko
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

Karamon Gate [Toshogu Shrine], Nikko

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

SHORT TEAR AT BOTTOM, PLEASE SEE ENLARGEMENT

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$40

[Unidentified Street Scene]
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

[Unidentified Street Scene]

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

EDGE/CORNER WEAR, LIGHT CREASE UPPER RIGHT, FOX MARK, PLEASE SEE ENLARGEMENT

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$40

Karasaki No Matsu Otsu” (Karasaki Pine Tree)
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

Karasaki No Matsu Otsu” (Karasaki Pine Tree)

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

EDGE/CORNER WEAR, LIGHT CREASE UPPER RIGHT, FOX MARK, PLEASE SEE ENLARGEMENT

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$40

“The Carp” (Koinobori)
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

“The Carp” (Koinobori)

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

EDGE/CORNER WEAR, LIGHT CREASES, FOX MARKS, PLEASE SEE ENLARGEMENT

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$50

Wisteria Blossoms Kameido [Temple] at Tokyo
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

Wisteria Blossoms Kameido [Temple] at Tokyo

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

EDGE/CORNER WEAR, LIGHT CREASES, PLEASE SEE ENLARGEMENT

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$50

Bund of Yokohama
click above image for an enlarged view of the entire sheet, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual print

Bund of Yokohama

An original hand-colored albumen print from the 1890s

SHEET SIZE: APPROX. 10.25 x 8.125 INCHES

EDGE/CORNER WEAR, LIGHT CREASES, PLEASE SEE ENLARGEMENT

thin, delicate albumen paper • backs blank, mounting residue in corners

$30

Thousands of Antique and Vintage prints of Scenery and Topography prints here