Size: 11.6 x 9.25 in. (295 x 235 mm).
Item#: SD-086 Artist: Shinzo Fukuhara (attributed to).
Image or title: Yoshino River, Nara Prefecture
Date: 1920s Medium: vintage matte gelatin silver print. Price: please inquire

Description: Inscription on verso reads: "Yoshino River taken by Shinzo Fukuhara" Printed on Opal paper. This print comes from the estate of a former employee of the Shiseido Company and was discovered in Tokyo in 2004, the result of an estate sale. Due to the Allied bombings of Tokyo in 1945, many of the negatives and prints by this artist have been destroyed, which makes this print exceptionally rare.

Condition: very good (for specifics, please contact us).

Shinzo Fukuhara (1883 -1948):

Often called the father of Japanese modern photography, Shinzo Fukuhara was born in Tokyo in 1883. His father, Arinobu Fukuhara was a wealthy proprietor of a pharmacy called Shiseido, located in Tokyo's Ginza district. From an early age Fukuhara had aspirations of becoming painter, but family obligations dictated his future. In 1903 he entered the Chiba Medical College where he graduated with a degree in pharmacology in 1906. In 1908 he traveled to the United States to attend Columbia University where he earned a degree in pharmacology. During his stay in New York he worked for a pharmacy and later a cosmetics factory. Next he traveled to Europe in 1912, visiting England, Italy, Germany and France, where he settled in Paris. There he joined forces with a group of young Japanese artists and while in Paris took over 2000 photographs of the city (later published as “Paris et la Seine” in 1922).

In late 1913 Fukuhara returned to Tokyo to enter the family business and assumed management of Shiseido in 1915. This was the start of Shiseido being transformed into one of Japan’s leading cosmetic companies with Fukuhara as its first president. But even though he had become a successful businessman, his passion for art and photography only grew. In 1921 he and his brother Roso established the Shashin Geijutsu-sha (Photographic Art), a group of art photographers dedicated to pictorialism. This group published the journal Shashin Geijutsu which featured photographs by members of this elite group. They also mounted exhibitions at the Shiseido Gallery, a premier Tokyo art space founded by the Fukuharas. This led to Fukuhara’s 1923 groundbreaking book entitled “Hikari to Sono Kaicho” (Light with its Harmony) which proposed the theory of applying the Japanese aesthetic of haiku poetry to photography. However this was also the year the Great Kanto Earthquake struck Japan on September 1, 1923 destroying Shiseido's Ginza headquarters and gallery, as well as all of Fukuhara’s prints and negatives. As devastating as these setbacks were, Shinzo and Roso founded the Nihon Shashin-kai (Japan Photographic Society) in 1924, and Shinzo was elected the group’s first chairman in 1925. The Shiseido Gallery was also rebuilt and by the late 1920s the Nihon Shashin-kai was back to its regular activities.

In 1930, Shinzo traveled to China and made a series of photographs which he published in his 1931 book “Beautiful West Lake”. This was published by the Nihon Shashin-kai which also published his books “Old Town Matsue" in 1935, and “The Sunny Hawaii” in 1937. In 1940 he made a trip to Taiwan with his protégé Tadashi Murabayashi and made a series of photographs there. But by then his eyesight was declining which forced him to rely upon his assistants when taking photographs. In 1943 he published the book “Musashino Fubutsu” (Life and Nature of Musashi) which contained 144 photographs (see below). This was published during World War II when art photography books were a rarity.

In 1944 Fukuhara moved from Tokyo to Gora in the Hakone district near Mount Fuji where he lived for one year, then to Nagano Prefecture in 1945. In 1946 his brother Roso died, then Shinzo himself passed away on November 4, 1948, at the age of 65. When he died, his passing signaled an end to a classic era of Japanese art photography.

Shinzo Fukuhara is considered a pioneer of Japanese art photography, publishing seven books and over 100 articles. He was also a patron of all the arts and supported young and aspiring artists. According to Shiseido, his concepts on art formed the basis of Shiseido design, one of the companies’ most enduring legacy. Unfortunately all but a small portion of Fukuhara’s negatives and prints perished during the Allied air raids of Tokyo in 1945.