In 1876 the Cincinnati-born painter Robert Frederick Blum visited the Centennial Exposition, the first official World’s Fair. Although only a mere 20 years since the arrival of Commodore Perry, Japan staged an impressive booth. It left a strong impression on Blum, as well as a writer for the Atlantic Monthly. Impressed by Japan’s elegance and it’s contrast to the excesses of other nations, the reporter wrote: “The Japanese collection is the first stage for those who are moved chiefly by the love of beauty or novelty in their sight-seeing. The gorgeousness of their specimens is equaled only by their exquisite delicacy…After the Japan collection, everything looks in a measure commonplace, almost vulgar.”
14 years later in 1890, Blum seized his opportunity and took up an invitation to attend Japan’s 3rd National Industrial Exhibition in Ueno Park, Tokyo. He spent 3 years there, meticulously documenting Japan in vivid oil paintings that provide an intimate, animated look into a time we know mainly through limited black and white photos.
Left: “Meguro Fudo Temple” | Right: “Orange Kimono (Orange-iro no Kimono)”
Left: “Japanese Samurai (Nihon no Samurai)” | Right: “Japanese Woman (Nihon no Josei)”
source: DDN Japan