Franz von Stillfried-Ratenicz

Franz von Stillfried-Ratenicz, “Japanese Samurai Warrior”, 1881, Hand-Colored

Baron Raimund Anton Alois Maria von Stillfried-Ratenicz was born in Austria in 1839 and spent his childhood in military outposts on the fringes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1864, aged 24, he chose life as a cabin boy in a ship headed for Peru instead of an aristocratic military career.

By 1868, after a couple of years adventuring in Mexico, fighting a doomed campaign for the Habsburg Emperor, Stillfried-Ratenicz had set up a photography studio in Yokohama, Japan. A 19th-century pioneer of photography in Yokohama, he was the first in Japan to recognize the new medium’s potential as a global marketing tool. Adept at producing theatrical souvenir photos, Stillfried also took the first ever photograph of Emperor Meiji.

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