British photographic history

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Seeking information: Vernon Heath and the Japanese embassy of 1862

Does anyone have information about British photographer Vernon Heath (1819–1895), and specifically about the photographs he made of members of the diplomatic mission from Japan who visited London in 1862? I have information (but no confirmation) that the date these photographs were made was June 11, 1862, and that Christie's sold a lot of Heath's Japan photographs in 1998. I do not know where those photographs ended up, or whether Heath made mention of photographing the Japanese in his 1892 biography, "Recollections" or elsewhere. I have seen three examples of these photographs, two of which I know are in a museum in the U.S., but would like to find other examples and learn the total number taken. As we are trying to include this information in a book going to press soon, and it is difficult to access English-language archives from here in Japan, any assistance would be much appreciated.

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Comment by Alice Gordenker on May 6, 2014 at 1:02

Thank you very much for introducing this valuable resource. I shall get to work on it.

Comment by Michael Pritchard on May 5, 2014 at 16:36

There may be something here:  Morning Post, Saturday 14 June 1862. Check: 

Comment by Michael Pritchard on May 5, 2014 at 16:23

You'll find the various Caldesi companies here: 

Comment by Alice Gordenker on May 5, 2014 at 14:44

Thank you very much for checking Photographic News. Your help is much appreciated. (But, now, who is Coldesi??) Yes, before coming to London, the Japanese were photographed in Paris by Nadar and also Jacques-Philippe Potteau, who was an assistant at the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle. That Heath also photographed the Japanese ambassadors does not seem to be widely known here in Japan, and I would like to make that information available to Japanese scholars. I found an English-language website ( with this statement: "Advertisements which Heath placed in the British press make it clear that the ambassadors sat for their portrait on 11 June 1862, shortly before they left England." No copy of advertisements were provided. I wonder if there is a way to check period newspapers online?

Comment by Michael Pritchard on May 4, 2014 at 18:35

I have checked Photographic News for 1862 and only found this reference..exhibited at the London Photographic Society 'to some portraits of the Japanese Ambassadors, by Coldesi, exhibited by Mr. Kater' (6 June 1862, p275). The BJP also carried the same report on 16 June 1862, p234 with the added comment: 'Amongst the portraits of the Japanese Ambassadors some were taken in an entirely new size for full-length portraits, and were called the "new album portrait." The dimensions of the actual photograph were 6 x 31/2 and the length of the figure about 5 inches.' 

Apparently Nadar had taken their portraits in May before they arrived in London. 

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