Middle-class family, Japan, 1863-1864.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving from 'Zhivopisnaia Iaponiia', (St Petersburg, 1870), a Russian translation of 'Le Japon illustree' ('Japan illustrated'), (Paris, 1870) by Swiss diplomat Aime Humbert (1819-1900) who spent two years in Japan from 1863 to 1864. Humbert described the Japanese class system in detail. Here he depicts a family from the bourgeosie class, with traditional Japanese tea-making utensils. As Envoy Extraordinary Minister Plenipotentiary for Switzerland, Humbert travelled to areas inaccessible to the ordinary person. The text illustrates and discusses the life, customs and activities of the Japanese, before the influence of foreign powers; the engravings are based on sketches and photographs done while en route.