France (A French Photographer Assisted by His Wife)
Utagawa Yoshikazu, Japanese, active c. 1850-70. Published by Izumiya Ichibei, Kansendō.
Although photography had been introduced to Japan in the late 1840s, interest in the medium increased dramatically after the opening of the country and the establishment of its first commercial photography studio by an American in Yokohama in 1860. Over the next decade, an influx of foreign photographers came to Japan to record the exotic culture and shared their knowledge, equipment, and skills with local practitioners. Felix Beato, perhaps the most famous Western photographer to have worked in Japan at this time, operated a studio in Yokohama from 1863 to 1877. The association of Yokohama with new photography techniques makes this image of a photographer a logical choice for a Yokohama print. The subject's designation as a Frenchman may allude to the nationality of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, the inventor of the daguerreotype (1839), one of the earliest photographic processes.