Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath
W. Eugene Smith
Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath
W. Eugene Smith (American, 1918-1978): Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath, 1971. W. Eugene Smith is represented by Howard Greenberg Gallery, The Fuller Building, New York, NY. (howardgreenberg.com) © This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.



"The photograph was first published in the June 2, 1972, edition of Life magazine as the centrepiece of a short Minamata photo essay. This was expanded into book form featuring the full series of photographs taken by Smith during his stay in Minamata. The issue of Minamata disease and the plights of the victims was brought to worldwide attention by this photo essay and book.



Many commentators regard Tomoko as Smith's greatest work. The black-and-white photo depicts a mother cradling her severely deformed, naked daughter in a traditional Japanese bathing chamber. The mother, Ryoko Uemura, agreed to deliberately pose the startlingly intimate photograph with Smith to illustrate the terrible effects of Minamata disease (a type of mercury poisoning) on the body and mind of her daughter Tomoko. Upon publication the photo became world famous, significantly raising the international profile of Minamata disease and the struggle of the victims for recognition and compensation. At the wishes of Tomoko Uemura's family, the photograph was withdrawn from further publication in 1997, 20 years after Tomoko's death." (wikipedia.org)