Yokoyama Matsusaburo

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Yokoyama Matsusaburō (born Yokoyama Bunroku, 10 October 1838 – 15 October 1884) was a pioneering Japanese photographer, artist, lithographer and teacher. Yokoyama was the first Japanese photographer to seriously pursue stereographic photography.

The Japanese photographer Yokoyama Matsusaburo was born in Etorofu Island (now disputed territory with Russia), but spent his childhood in the port city of Hakodate. His lifelong love was painting, but when Commodore Perry’s ships visited Hakodate in 1854, Yokoyama was intrigued by the photography of Eliphalet Brown. This interest was reinforced when, later that year, the Russian photographer Aleksandr Mozhaiskii took daguerreotypes of the streets of Hakodate. Thinking that mastery of photography would help him to become a better artist, he traveled to Yokohama and studied under Shimooka Renjo. Returning to Hakodate his technique was further refined by the Russian consul and amateur photographer, Iosif Goshkevich. In 1868, Yokoyama opened his own lavish studio in Tokyo. In 1871 he famously photo- graphed the partially destroyed Edo Castle, and in 1873 Japanese art works destined for the Vienna Exposition. In the same year he began to concentrate on teaching art and photography students at his studio. In 1876 he gave up his studio and taught photography and photolithog- raphy at the Japan Military Academy until 1881. There he experimented with printing techniques and developed a form of photographic oil painting, shashin abura-e. In 1882 he contracted tuberculosis and spent the last two years of his life painting (particularly photographic oil painting) and immersing himself in a photolithography company which he founded. [Examples of Yokoyama’s work can be found in the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo] [1].

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