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Book & Event: The Prussian Expedition to Japan, 1860-61

Under Eagle Eyes: Lithographs, Drawings and Photographs from the Prussian Expedition to Japan, 1860-61. Edited by Sebastian Dobson & Sven Saaler, with contributions by Nakai Akio, Peter Pantzer, Veit Hammer, Timon Screech, Sebastian Dobson & Sven Saaler.

In the roll call of Western nations that participated in the “re-opening” of Japan in the last years of the Shogunate, the Kingdom of Prussia has long been marginalised. The Prussian Expedition to Japan of 1860-61 still receives little scholarly attention outside Germany and Japan, and even among German and Japanese scholars investigation into Count Friedrich zu Eulenburg’s mission has focused almost entirely on the diplomatic negotiations which eventually led to the signing of a Prussian-Japanese treaty in Edo in 1861, an event currently being celebrated in its 150th anniversary year as the beginning of German-Japanese relations.

However, as contemporaries observed, this was no ordinary expedition. Eulenburg’s civilian staff consisted not only of four diplomats, but also of four scientists, two artists and one photographer, all of whom made use of an unexpected five-month stay in Edo to examine and record a country still little-known in Europe. This book seeks to reconstruct the scientific and artistic legacies of Eulenburg’s expedition, much of which either languished in obscurity or was even believed to have been lost. In particular, the iconography of the Prussian Expedition, consisting of photographs, lithographs and work in more traditional media, is presented here for the first time.

The book will be launched on 1 December 2011 at Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 6:00 – 7:00pm, followed by a drinks reception to 8:00pm. See:

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