Over a century old, these incredible oil paintings by Robert Frederick Blum offer a rare glimpse into the vivid life of Tokyo in the late 19th century, a time and place we know mainly through limited black and white photos.
In 1876, the Cincinnati-born painter visited the first official World's Fair and was so impressed and inspired by Japan's booth that 14 years later he jumped at the opportunity to attend Japan's Third National Industrial Exhibition. Blum spent three years in Ueno Park, Tokyo diligently documenting the exhilarating city and its residents in vibrant oil paint. These works of art create an intimate and animated sense of what every day life was like at that time in Tokyo.
The first painting pictured above, entitled The Ameya, became Blum's most acclaimed painting and in 1893, helped him become one of the youngest artists to secure membership to the National Academy of Design in NYC.