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 Based on extensive new primary sources and unpublished documents from archives around the world, this book examines von Stillfried’s significance as a cultural mediator between Japan and Central Europe.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)


EUR €103.00USD $128.00

Biographical Note

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.

Review Quote

"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)

Table of contents

Acknowledgments 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 Preparations 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 Notes Selected Bibliography Index


All those interested in the history of Japanese photography, Meiji history, Raimund von Stillfried.