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
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.