NGA Photography

19thC photography in Japan

There’s a small exhibition at the National gallery of Australia.

Situated up stairs — enter from the stairs just before the entrance to the special exhibitions wing — and you will discover a wall that has a changing exhibition of mostly 19th Century photographs from the gallery’s Asian photography collections.

As you can see from the image above — it is a small wall of photographs — but there’s so much to enjoy about these beautiful objects.


below the photographs on the wall is a table with a very beautiful set of Japanese Ambrotypes — here’s the words from the NGA:

Ambrotype portraits by Japanese photographers made largely for a Japanese clientele, housed in blonde kiri-wood [paulownia], flourished in the 1870s and 1880s at a time when the process had largely disappeared elsewhere. They are a special feature of the history of photography in the Asia-Pacific region. Many of the ambrotypists appear to have travelled from region to region and operated regularly from popular parks and temples. The portraits mostly have rather austere backdrops such as simple plain cloth temporarily erected in situ. Sitters are frequently shown with Western props such as Western umbrellas and chairs to show their modernity. Despite the simplicity, the Japanese ambrotype genre is full of variety and often marked by a certain informality.

and here’s a few images — but you must visit to really enjoy these precious objects.

and these two gents dressed as ‘locals’:

Totally recommended if you are interested in photography and of this era.

and there are several other small exhibits of photography in other corners of the NGA right now: William Eggleston, Eduardo Masferre, and a special exhibition on photographs on Mexico.

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