UENO Hikoma

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UENO Hikoma 上野 彦馬 (1838-1904) Nagasaki. A historic figure in early Japanese photography, one of Japan's first professional photographers.

Son of UENO Shunnojo (1790-1851), a merchant who imported the first (a Daguerreotype) camera into Japan (via Dejima, a small island off Nagasaki) and presented it to the Shimazu clan.

Studied Chinese classics and studied chemistry at a Dutch institute headed by a Dutch physician named Julius L.C. Pompe van Meerdervoort. Hikoma learned photography from him and P. Rossier, a French photographer.

In 1862, Hikoma co-wrote (together with HORIE Kuwajiro) three volumes of a textbook called "Seimikyoku Hikkei," a science handbook. Later that year, he opened his photo studio in Nagasaki. It was not that successful since the Japanese thought that illness or death would result from being photographed. It was also expensive. However, the studio eventually became well-established and popular with foreigners.

He has taken many portraits of samurai (including the most famous portrait of SAKAMOTO Ryoma, one of the leaders of the Meiji Restoration) and foreigners and landscape. Also opened branch studios in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Mentor to many students who went on to become prominent photographers.

Sample photos Museum of Fine Arts, Houston