Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections
UMass Amherst seal
Felice Beato Photograph Collection, ca.1863-1871
1 box (1.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: PH 4

Abstract:
A pioneer in war and documentary photography, the Anglo-Greek photographer Felice Beato was an important chronicler of late-Edo and early-Meiji era Japan. Between 1863 and 1877, Beato took a stunning array of views, portraits, ethnographic images, and genre scenes and helped train the first generation of Japanese photographers.

The Beato Collection includes ten images taken by Felice Beato in Japan between 1863 and 1871, including his famous view of Daibutsu, the Great Buddha at Kotokuin Temple, Kamakura; his view of one of the residences of the Shimabara clan; two very scarce views of a farmhouse and agricultural laborers, probably taken along the Tokaido Road; two views of Yokohama; and a fine view of a naval fleet at Nagasaki.

Terms of Access and Use:

The collection is open for research.

Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Background Note
Kaisando Temple, Nagasaki

Kaisando Temple, Nagasaki

A pioneer in war photography and the photography of Japan, Felice Beato is believed to have been born between 1825 and 1830 on the Greek Island of Corfu, then a British protectorate. Although little certain can be said about his formal training or early career, Beato is known to have begun work as a photographer as early as 1851, when he traveled to Constantinople with his brother Antonio to work for James Robertson, an experienced photographer who would later become their brother-in-law. By 1853, the Beatos and Robertson had formed a partnership, taking touristic images of famous sites throughout the eastern Mediterranean and Palestine.

In 1855, Robertson and Beato shifted course and lit out to document the Crimean War battlefields at Balaklava, following immediately on the heels of the photographer Roger Fenton. Three years later, Beato ventured even further afield, heading to Calcutta and northern India to take photographs of the devastation following the Lucknow Revolt, and producing a series of graphic images that are sometimes considered to include the earliest depictions of war dead.

After spending an undetermined period of time in England, Beato left for Japan prior to 1863, and although he was not the first photographer there, his images are among the best known of the late Edo period. Once settled in Yokohama, he opened a photographic and art studio with the English journalist and illustrator Charles Wirgman, producing a stunning array of views, portraits, ethnographic images, and genre scenes over almost a decade and a half. He traveled throughout Honshu and other Japanese islands, becoming the official photographer on the military expedition to Shimonoseki in September 1864, and producing a widely reproduced series of views of Nagasaki and its surroundings shortly thereafter.

After a fire destroyed all of his negatives in 1866, Beato resumed work with great energy. In 1871, he accompanied a United States naval expedition to Korea, sometimes referred to as the first Korean War, again as official photographer. Just as important as his documentary work, however, Beato is reputed to have helped train the first generation of Japanese photographers, including Kusakabe Kimbei, as well as the noted German photograph Raimund von Stillfried. Beato remained in Yokohama until 1877 at which time he sold his negatives and studio to Stillfried's firm.

Later in life, Beato photographed in Africa and southeast Asia, but he appears to have stopped photographing after 1899. He died in 1908.

Scope and contents of the collection

The Beato Collection includes ten images taken by Felice Beato in Japan between 1863 and 1871, including his famous view of Daibutsu, the Great Buddha at Kotokuin Temple, Kamakura; his view of one of the residences of the Shimabara clan; two very scarce views of a farmhouse and agricultural laborers, probably taken along the Tokaido Road; two views of Yokohama; and a fine view of a naval fleet at Nagasaki.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Felice Beato Photograph Collection (PH 4). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection
Custodial history:

This collection was originally found housed with the John Thomson Photograph Collection (PH 2) and the Walter Bentley Woodbury Photograph Collection (PH 3), which seems to indicate that the images were acquired together.

Processing Information

Collection was processed and images scanned by Meghan Fahey, August 2007.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Special Collections and University Archives
W.E.B. Du Bois Library
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9275

Phone: (413) 545-2780
Fax: (413) 577-1399
Link to SCUA
Language
English.

Contents List
Daibutsu (the Great Buddha) of Kotokuin Temple, Kamakura
ca.1866
image 27 x 20.5 cm., on mount 45.5 x 35 cm.
Box 1:1
Daibutsu
Farmhouse on canal's side
ca.1868
image 28.5 x 19.5, on mount 45.5 x 35 cm.
Box 1:2
Farmhouse
Farmers in agricultural field
ca.1868
image 27 x 21 cm., on mount 45.5 x 35 cm.
Box 1:3
Farmers
Kanazawa view from hill
ca.1868
image 30 x 23, on mount 45.5 x 35 cm.
Box 1:4
Kanazawa
Kaisando Temple, Nagasaki
ca.1864-1868
28 x 23 cm., on mount 45.5 x 35 cm.
Box 1:5
Kaisando Temple
Negishi Bay from Fudozaka Slope [View on the New Road]
1868
29 x 21.5 cm., on mount 45.5 x 35 cm.
Box 1:6
Yokohama from the New Road
Pagoda at Kamakura
ca.1868
22 x 28 cm., on mount 35 x 45.5 cm.
Box 1:7
Temple at Kamakura
Port of Nagasaki with American and British warships
1871
21.5 x 18.5 cm., on mount 28 x 23.5 cm.
Box 1:8
Port of Nagasaki
Shimabara-han Fief Second Residence
ca.1863
29 x 21.5 cm., on mount 45.5 x 35 cm.
Box 1:9
Shimabara-han
Yokohama from the new road
ca.1868
29.5 x 21 cm., on mount 45.5 x 35 cm.
Box 1:10
Yokohama from the New Road

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Japan--Photographs
  • Japan--Social life and customs
  • Nagasaki (Japan)--Photographs
  • Temples--Japan--Photographs
  • Yokohama (Japan)--Photographs

Contributors
  • Beato, Felice, b. ca. 1825

Genre terms
  • Albumen prints
  • Photographs


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