OGAWA Kazumasa (1860-1929): Red Chrysanthemums, color collotype, 1895


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OGAWA Kazumasa (1860-1929) : Red Chrysanthemums, Fu-yo-shu-sui. Original vintage multi-color strike collotype, unmounted. Newly framed under glass with solid oak frame.


Plate : 30,5 x 24,5 cm - 12 x 9 5/8 in
Frame : 47,1 x 42,3 cm - 18 1/2 x 16 5/8 in


Collotype is a high quality printing process when gelatin is applied to a glass plate, allowed to dry, then exposed to a photographic negative. Once exposed the plate creates a fine grained image of reticulated gelatin that when inked can be used to print onto paper. This process was invented in 1855 by the French Alphonse Poitevin (1819-1882) and was immensely popular in Japan from the 1890's to the 1940's due largely in part to Ogawa. Because of the high costs of copper associated with gravure printing, collotype became Japan's preferred method of printing over the gravure process.


The J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles. United States of America.


'Chrysanthemums of Japan'. Tokyo. K. Ogawa. 1895.
'Some Japanese Flowers' by Kazumasa OGAWA photographer, in collotype. Yokohama, Kelly and Walsh Limited (Yokohama, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore). 1895. -12 Plates.
'Japan Described and Illustrated by the Japanese'. Boston. Millet. 1897.

OGAWA Kazumasa (1860-1929) OGAWA Kazumasa (1860-1929) :
Ogawa Kazumasa (September 29, 1860 - September 7, 1929), also known as Ogawa Kazuma or Ogawa Isshin, was a Japanese photographer, printer and publisher who was a pioneer in photomechanical printing and photography in the Meiji era.

Ogawa was born in Saitama to the Matsudaira samurai clan. He started studying English and photography at the age of 15 under Yoshiwara Hideo, then in 1880 he moved to Tokyo in order to further hone his English language skills. One year later, Ogawa was hired as an interpreter in the Yokohama Police Department, while learning photography from Shimooka Renjô in Yokohama.

In 1882, he moved to Boston where he took courses in portrait photography and the dry plate process. He also studied collotype printing in Albert Type Company.

Upon his return to Japan in 1884, Ogawa opened a photographic studio in Iidabashi (Kôjimachi), the first in Tokyo. Four years later, he established the Tsukiji Kampan Seizô Kaisha (Tsukiji dry plate manufacturing company), which manufactured dry plates for use by photographers. In 1889, he set up Japan's first collotype business, the Ogawa Shashin Seihan jo , also referred to as the K. Ogawa printing factory. In the same year, Ogawa worked as an editor for Shashin Shinpô (lit. Photography journal), the only photographic journal available at the time, as well as for Kokka magazine (lit. National flower). He printed both magazines using the collotype printing process.

Ogawa was a founding member of the Japan Photographic Society, which gathered photography amateurs from all around Japan. In 1891, he was charged with taking 100 pictures of Tokyo's most attractive geisha, to commemorate the opening of of Tokyo's first skyscraper, the Ryôunkaku. These photographs gained him notoriety for their artistry.
Throughout the rest of the Meiji period Ogawa produced many lovely collotype titles too numerous to mention. One entitled "Some Japanese Flowers" published in 1896 is beautifully illustrated with hand colored collotype plates by Ogawa. Other projects he photographed include the 1893 world's fair in Chicago and the Imperial Palace in Beijing.

Ogawa played an active role in his printing company and photo studios well into the Taisho period. During his long career he perfected the collotype process, bringing it to a whole new level as an artform with the use of multi-strike printings, as well as the addition of hand coloring. As a result, Japanese collotypes have endured a legacy as the finest in the world even to this day.

In the past there has been some debate as to the correct spelling of his name. He sometimes went by Isshin Ogawa, but the correct spelling is Kazumasa Ogawa. He also became a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in England.

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