A Career of Japan

Baron Raimund von Stillfried and Early Yokohama Photography


A Career of Japan is the first study of one of the major photographers and personalities of nineteenth-century Japan. Baron Raimund von Stillfried was the most important foreign-born photographer of the Meiji era and one of the first globally active photographers of his generation. He played a key role in the international image of Japan and the adoption of photography within Japanese society itself. Yet, the lack of a thorough study of his activities, travels, and work has been a fundamental gap in both Japanese- and Western-language scholarship. Based on extensive new primary sources and unpublished documents from archives around the world, this book examines von Stillfried’s significance as a cultural mediator between Japan and Central Europe. It highlights the tensions and fierce competition that underpinned the globalising photographic industry at a site of cultural contact and exchange – treaty-port Yokohama. In the process, it raises key questions for Japanese visual culture, Habsburg studies, and cross-cultural histories of photography and globalisation.

A Career of Japan is the winner of the 2nd Professor Josef Kreiner Hosei University Award for International Studies (Kreiner Award).

“Luke Gartlan’s book is a compelling and enjoyable read, and contributes major new perspectives to the growing field of Meiji photography. It will certainly be the authoritative work on Raimund von Stillfried, but it is also impressive for its contributions to other important areas of Meiji cultural studies, including representations of the emperor, photography of Hokkaido, and world’s fairs.” Bert Winther-Tamaki (University of California, Irvine)

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Luke Gartlan (PhD 2004) is a lecturer at the School of Art History, University of St Andrews. He is the editor of the peer-reviewed international quarterly History of Photography, and co-editor, with Ali Behdad, of Photography's Orientalism: New Essays on Colonial Representation (Getty Research Institute, 2013). His research concerns photography and cultural exchange in the nineteenth century, especially with reference to the camera’s role in colonial-era visual culture, histories of travel and exploration, and non-Western responses to photography.
"Gartlan’s exploration of Raimund von Stillfried’s prolific artistic activities makes a compelling contribution to the study of Japanese visual culture [...] The work transcends traditional art-historical boundaries." - Kerry Ross, in: Monumenta Nipponica 73:1 (2018), pp. 107-110
"Luke Gartlan’s A Career of Japan is that rare book that combines erudition, style, a compelling story, impeccable research, and commitment to innovative historical and cultural studies. […] It is also a showpiece of a beautifully produced book, with impressive reproductions […] and a fantastic layout. […] Gartlan’s dense weave teaches us much about orientalism and globalization – we all need to read it and learn new ways of approaching visual culture and cultural contact." - Katherine Arens, in: Journal of Austrian Studies, Vol. 51, No. 2, Summer 2018, pp. 91-93
"Gartlan has skilfully pieced together a substantial body of source material [...] from across Japan, Austria, the UK and Australia to craft a compelling account of Stillfried’s international adventures and misadventures. Gartlan’s enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. [...] Given the preference of so many publishers to strip away valuable elements of scholarly publications such as appendices, glossaries, extensive endnotes and colour illustrations in the name of cutting costs and broadening the audience, books like this one have become rare gems indeed. Brill is to be heartily congratulated for valuing Gartlan’s contribution, respecting the importance of scholarly rigour and celebrating the appeal of Stillfried’s imagery. […] The result is a beautifully presented, lavishly illustrated and fascinating book that promises to be enjoyed by readers interested in Japanese studies, history, modernism, tourism studies and photography." - Melissa Miles, in: Japan Forum 2017
"Long recognized as the authority on Stillfried, Gartlan has pulled together his extensive research in this thorough and engaging study. (...) One of the many strengths of the Gartlan's book is in how he provides interesting details, many of which were previously unknown (...) Gartlan has included relevant and previously unknown documents in the book's appendices (...) The impressive format of the book (7.5 by 10 inches) makes it possible to have large reproductions; these are all beautifully printed in color, so one can appreciate the aesthetics of Stillfried's hand-colored albumen prints. (...) Gartlan's important and fascinating book will be a hard act to follow." – Eleanor M. Hight, in: Trans Asia Photography Review 6/2 (Spring 2016)
"The eminent Dutch publishing-house of Brill must be commended for the look and feel of this book, printed on high-quality glossy paper and its superbly-reproduced photographs, many of which are colored, like the one described above. The book is the first volume in a projected series entitled "Photography in Asia," and if this one is anything to go by, this reviewer is certainly looking forward to further volumes. Beautiful books are hard to find these days, and Brill should be congratulated for producing this one. […] I've already said something about the production of this book; Brill has done a great service to both the author and his subject. The book is a pleasure to hold, to look at, and to read. Gartlan has rescued a great artist from comparative oblivion, and I only wish that I could do the technical aspects of this book the justice they deserve. I cannot recommend it more highly, both for the visual treats and the intellectual delights in the discussion." – John Butler, in: Asia Review of Books, 7 August 2016 [Full review]
"Gartlan's richly detailed but highly readable text covers Stillfried's life in Europe, his minor successes abroad in the 1860s as well as his acclaimed but mixed economic success as a photographer in Yokohama. (...) A Career of Japan is well laid out and illustrated and makes a number of rare documents accessible through appendices. (...) This publication will be a key reference work on the artist, the period and the phenomenon of 19th-20th century Japonisme in the west." – Gael Newton, in: TAASA Review 25/3
"a work of great quality, printed on good paper with excellent reproductions of the photographs. Von Stillfried's tribulations, within and outside of Japan have been researched thoroughly, as has his photography." – Herman J. Moeshart, in: Andon 102 (2016)
Note for the Reader

Introduction: With Argus Eyes
The Death of a Photographer
Objectives and Parameters
Chapter Outline

1. From Dreams to Specters
On the Frontiers of Empire
Maritime and Artistic Education
Military Service and Travels
Serving Emperor Maximilian in Mexico
The Legacy of Querétaro
Empire Lost

2. Changing View s
First Visit to Japan, 1864–65 35
Serving Empire In Absentia
Felice Beato: Mentor and Model?
First Portfolios
An Expatriate Market
The Coming of the Globetrotter

3. “The Mikado Photograph Affair”
Touring Yokosuka Arsenal
Photographing the Emperor
Censoring the Foreigner
The Imperial Commissions
Circulation and Display

4. Picturing Hokkaido
Terms and Duties
The Hokkaido Commission
Views of Hokkaido
The Ainu as Subject
Reprographic Afterlives

5. Sex and Violence in the Tea house
At the Vienna World Exposition
A Teahouse for Vienna
Blood Statement

6. A Merchant of Images
Austro-Hungarian Globetrotters
The Rise of the Japan Photographic Association
Toward a Global Enterprise

7. Constructing and Contesting Japan
Four Photographic Albums
Colored Costumes
Masters and Apprentices

8. The Trials of Stillfried
Hermann Andersen and “Stillfried and Andersen”
Professor Stillfried: An Expert Witness and Instructor
The Consular Courts and the Arrival of Franz von Stillfried
A New Series, Painted and Unpainted
Stillfried and the Return to Paints
Conclusion: Visual Histories and Volatile Markets

Afterword: A Prodigal Subject
The Presentation of Self
Exhibiting Asia in Vienna
Rethinking the Travel Photographer

Appendix A
Baron Heinrich von Calice, Jedo [Tokyo], to Count Friedrich von Beust, Vienna. Bericht über eine
Beschwerde gegen Baron Stillfried wegen Aufnahme und Verkauf einer Photographie des Mikado und
daraus entstandene Unzukömmlichkeiten (Report on a Complaint against Baron Stillfried due to the
Taking and Marketing of a Photograph of the Mikado and Any Resulting Inconveniences), 20 January 1872.

Appendix B
[Watanabe Hiromoto], Transcription of an Interview with the Carpenter Genkichi, November–
December 1873, Vienna.

Appendix C
A Brief Timeline of Raimund von Stillfried’s Studios, Associates, and Competitors.

Appendix D
Indenture of Sale of Photographic Goods from Raimund von Stillfried to Franz von Stillfried, United
States Consulate in Yokohama, 6 December 1879.

Glossary of Japanese Terms
Selected Bibliography
All those interested in the history of Japanese photography, Meiji history, Raimund von Stillfried.
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