Felice Beato Xenophobia in Japan: The Assassination of Major Baldwin and Lieutenant Bird (British)
Medium Four Albumen Prints on Two Original Album Mounts
Photo Date 1865
Dimensions 4 x 3 in. (102 x 76 mm)
Photo Country Japan
Photographer Country Japan
Contact Charles Schwartz
About This Image
Images: 4 x 3 inches / 5 x 7 inches
Four Albumen Prints on Two Original Album Mounts
This set of four photos (two photos mounted on two pages) was taken from an album published by Felice Beato in 1865. Most likely Beato, a foreigner himself, wanted to show a western audience the atrocities that were occurring during a wave of xenophobic crimes during the late Bakumatsu period--a time of great upheaval in Japan. To hold these crimes of passion in check (and in an attempt to appease the governments of the respected victims) photographic documents were made both pre- and post-punishment and sent abroad.
It is possible that taking such photos would have come at great personal risk to the photographer.
The first two photos show the site where Baldwin and Bird were murdered in Kamakura with a description in the top right hand corner of the leaf reading "Spot where Major Baldwin & Lt. Bird (of the 20th) were cut down by Japanese assassins near the temples of Kamakura (see executions)". The versos of each print lists accounts of the assassination, but are difficult to read due to the prints being mounted on all four corners.
The second album page features two photos documenting the display of the head of Mamiya Hajime, who was executed in Yokohama for the crime. The upper right hand corner of the album page has the following inscription: "Head of the 2nd Assassin Mamiya Hajime as exhibited on a jibbet at the foot of Yoshidabashi bridge 30, 31 Oct 01 Nov '65." Also, at middle of the album page (next to the landscape image of the head before the bridge) reads an inscription: "as exposed ou[?]."
On the verso of the overview print is penciled in descriptions explaining such details as the execution date and place, the assassins name, implements in the photos that are used for the apprehension of criminals, the assassins straw coat which is seen hanging on the fence at right, the settlement and causeway of Yokohama seen in the background, straw hut at left used by the executioner's coolies, etc. On the verso of the album page a letterpress description of the Japanese manner of execution entitled "EXECUTION" has been tipped in--a practice common to prints from albums by Felice Beato, who published his photos with the caption on the adjacent page, rather than on the verso (hence this text would have described yet another image, not shown here).
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