William (Wilhelm) Heine
Heine Depicts Himself in Lithographs from the US Japan Expedition Narrative
The fine lithographs in the official Narrative of the Perry Expedition to Japan are perhaps the one feature of the narrative that make it so appealing to a diverse audience. Most were prepared by the artist, Wilhelm Heine, who was specifically selected to serve as the artist on the expedition. This page will give information on Heine to include his career/work before and after the expedition.
William Heine (Peter Bernard Wilhelm Heine) was a seasoned artist and illustrator when he joined the expedition at the of 25. Before he joined the Expedition to Japan, he was an artist and writer and taught art in the United States and Europe. He had also served as a consular aide in Central America.
Heine was clearly a valued and extremely important member of the expedition. During important meetings, he was present. He was constantly dispatched with exploring parties and he recorded what he saw and encountered in paintings and writings. When the expedition was surveying wildlife, it was Heine who helped in trapping specimens and drawing the pictures of them. It was Heine's responsibility, along with Brown, to locate people and places of interest and record them so they could be presented for all to see in the official narrative of the expedition.
You can see the significant contribution of his work in the lithographs that accompany Volume I of the Narrative. This volume contains 90 full page lithograph prints (90 when you include the often suppressed Bath House lithograph) of these Heine was the artist on 63. While not always attributed to an artist, Heine was probably the artist responsible for many of the numerous woodcut type illustrations which add great interest and visual appeal to the Narrative. I believe Heine's energy and skill as an artist and illustrator contributed significantly to making the Narrative the renowned travel / historical book that it is considered today. It is impossible to tell how his work as a writer was weaved into the Narrative but it also surely was a significant contribution to the written account of the expedition.
After the US Japan Expedition, Heine served as an artist on the Eulenburg Expedition (Prussian East Asian Squadron/Expedition) by the Prussian government. This expedition spent from September 1860 through January 1861 negotiating the Prussian "Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation" with the Japanese government. It was during this expedition that Heine visited Yeddo (Tokyo) for the first time. Access to the city was not permitted during the earlier US Japan Expedition.
In 1862 Heine joined the First Maryland Infantry as a topographical engineer. As a rest of injury, and perhaps revealing too much military intelligence in his drawings published in Harper's Weekly, Heine was discharged from the Army in December of 1862. At this time Heine returned to Germany for medical treatment and prepared his memoir of the Prussian Expedition (Eine Weltreise um die Nordlich Hemisphare) which was published in 1864. He returned to the US in 1864 and rejoined the Union Army as a Colonel. He was breveted to Brigadier General in 1865 and discharged from the Army with a small pension of $20.00 a month. In the following years Heine would use his Army rank of Brigadier General in his title.
After the war he worked in the US and Germany (1865-1869) as an illustrator and art teacher. He served as the American consul in Paris and Liverpool from 1869-1871. In 1871 he was back in Germany in his native town of Dresden where he worked as an artist and art teacher, lecturer and book writer until his death in 1885.
It appears that Wilhelm Heine's last book was published in 1876. In the introduction to Heine's memories, Frederic Trautmann writes:
In 1876, after an earthquake called international attention to the capital, Heine published Yeddo. Nach Original-Skizzen. Memories of two expeditions informed it's forty pages of text. Daguerreotypes from the Prussian East Asia Expedition composed a foldout, five pictures into one panorama, his largest view of Japan, and his last.
When the book appeared, Heine had not been in Japan for 15 years.
(With Perry to Japan, A Memoir by William Heine Translated, With an Introduction and Annotations by Frederic Trautmann, 1990, University of Hawaii Press, at page 22).
For more information on this book, click here