Seeing Adolfo Farsari’s photographs Rudyard Kipling commented, ‘Mr Farsari is a nice man, eccentric and an artist, for which peculiarities he makes you pay, but his wares are worth the money….’ Farsari was an adept artist, photographer and entrepreneur. He was born on February 11, 1841 in Vicenza, Italy. He briefly served the Italian military before emigrating to the United States and taking part in the American Civil War. As an artist his talent really blossomed while being in Yokohama, Japan.
Farsari specialised in what is now known as hand–coloured photography. His career as a photographer is intertwined with another talented photographer of his time Tamamura Kozaburo. Together they acquired the Stillfried & Andersen studio and firmly established themselves as the most promising photographers of the country. Colour photography was unheard of then. So, Farsari’s elaborately painted photographs did not take much time to capture the imagination of an international audience. Additionally, the albums were used to be embellished with lacquer, ivory and brocade. Farsari’s understanding of the oriental techniques served him well. Such was the value of these albums that Farsari did not hesitate to present one to Italy’s future king.
The presence of such photographers as Farsari, who was also an enthusiastic teacher, helped in the development of local talents. Like painting, photography in Japan carved its own unique niche. His photographs, even if seen through a slightly tinted vision, bring memories of a bygone era back to public consciousness. Farsari passed away on February 7, 1898 in his native town, Vicenza. Perhaps, his journey around the world in the preceding thirty five years was nothing but a quest of understanding the artist within.