Capturing Japan in Nineteenth-Century New England Photography Collections examines the evidence left behind from a famous first encounter-that of prominent New England Americans with the remnants of feudal Japan in the 1870s and 1880s. The study reveals that, despite these Americans' varied reasons for traveling to Japan and studying its culture, a common desire united all of their collecting activities: to gather photographic documentation of a Japan they believed was disappearing under the pressures of trade and industrialization. Eleanor Hight focuses on the case studies of six New Englanders, whose travel and photograph collecting influenced the flowering of Japonism in the late nineteenth-century Boston area-still visible today in institutions such as the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The book also explores the history of Japanese photography and its main themes, from images of travel and historic sites, to exotic subjects such as geisha and samurai. The first history of its kind, this study makes fundamental points about the ways photographs, seeming conveyors of fact, imprint mental images and suppositions on their viewers.
Eleanor M. Hight is Professor of Art History at the University of New Hampshire. She was the co-editor with Gary D. Sampson of Colonialist Photography: Imag(in)ing Race and Place (2004).
Contents: Introduction; Into the emergent Japan; New England travelers; The adventure of early photography in Japan; Along the go-kaido; The people of 'old Japan'; Capturing Japan; Selected bibliography; Index.