Shaping Likeness: Practices and Concepts in Portrait Photography in Early Meiji Japan

Yokoyama Matsusaburo (1838-1884), A Man with topknot and a foreigner, n.d., collage, photographic image, oil painting.
Third Thursday Lecture - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 16 May, 2013
6:00pm BST

Norwich Cathedral Hostry (Weston Room), Norwich NR1 4EH


Maki Fukuoka (Lecturer of East Asian Art, University of Leeds)

Every Third Thursday of the month, the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures hosts a lecture on a topic related to the art and culture of Japan. Talks begin at 6pm (50-minute lecture followed by refreshments). Speakers are all specialists in their field and the talks are intended to be accessible to those with no prior knowledge of Japanese history.

Admission is free and all are welcome. Booking essential.

To book a seat email us at or fax 01603 625011 up to two days before the lecture stating your name, number of seats required and a contact number. Unless indicated otherwise the lectures are held at the Norwich Cathedral Hostry (Weston Room), Norwich NR1 4EH. The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Charitable Trust.

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About the Lecture

Shōzō, ‘semblance image’, is the contemporary Japanese term for two-dimensional pictorial representations of an individual. It rose to dominance just over a century ago, superseding a host of rival expressions, each of which carried a socially distinctive meaning. As this terminological fluidity implies, the production and consumption of photographic portraits were necessary part of a larger process of consolidating the broader genre of the ‘portrait’ within Meiji visual culture. This talk introduces a range of styles and uses of ‘portraits’ from early Meiji Japan, and addresses what and how fluid and contested ideas of portraiture contributed to the formation of a genre.

About the Speaker

Maki Fukuoka, Ph.D. (Chicago) is a lecturer of East Asian Art at the University of Leeds, and is a former Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow (2008-2009). She is the author of The Premise of Fidelity: Science, Visuality, and Representing the Real in Nineteenth-century Japan (Stanford University Press, 2012), “Selling Portrait Photographs: Early Photographic Business in Asakusa, Japan” (History of Photography, 2011), and “Toward a Synthesized History of Photography: A Conceptual Genealogy of Shashin” (positions: east asia cultures critique, 2010). She is currently working on a project tentatively titled Shaping Likeness, which explores the intersection between the concept of portraiture and political roles and social uses of portraiture in Meiji.

Image: Yokoyama Matsusaburo (1838-1884), A Man with topknot and a foreigner, n.d., collage, photographic image, oil painting.

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