Captivated in his youth by the new technology of photography, Kazumasa Ogawa (1860–1929) became one of the most enterprising and important early photographers, technicians, and printers in Japan. Born shortly before the Meiji era (1868–1912), or period of “enlightened rule,” and educated in both the United States and Japan, Ogawa produced a range of illustrated books for the Western market. His work focused on traditional architecture, scenic views, and subjects associated with Japanese culture, such as national festivals, military tableaux, ritual customs, costumed geisha, and flowers.
An original, deluxe edition of Ogawa’s 1896 book of hand-colored collotype prints, titled Some Japanese Flowers, in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, is reproduced here in its entirety. These beautiful photographs feature flowers native to Japan, such as the lotus, several varieties of chrysanthemum, lily, and morning glory, as well as garden scenes.
In addition to thirty-eight full-color plates, this small-format, stitch-bound book contains an 1890 portrait of Ogawa as publisher of Japan’s first photography magazine, Shashin Shimpo (Photographic journal). An accompanying essay traces Ogawa’s distinguished career and describes the collotype process used to produce his exquisite flower images, collected here again for the first time since the late nineteenth century.
Kazumasa Ogawa was a pioneering photographer and printer, and the foremost photography publisher in Japan during the Meiji era. The editor of Shashin Shimpo, he opened Tokyo’s first photography studio, established Japan’s first collotype press, and was a founding member of the Japan Photographic Society, the nation’s first amateur photography association.
“Ogawa opened his own portrait studio at the age of seventeen, launched Japan’s first art magazine, and by 1890 was recognized as the foremost photography publisher in Japan.”
Chicago Botanic Garden