Friday, August 28, 2015

Elizabeth Keith: The Uncatalogued Prints

Richard Miles' catalog, "Elizabeth Keith: The Printed Works," Pacific Asia Museum (1991), was produced in conjunction with a similarly-titled exhibition held at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, California that ran from October 1991 through February 1992.  At the time, it was a seminal catalog, illustrating 108 of Keith's woodblock prints and etchings.  Since Keith's death in 1956, only the University of Oregon Museum of Art had issued a catalog of similar scope in connection with a 1974 Keith exhibition, and it was sparsely illustrated and limited to works in that museum's collection.

Miles' catalog, however, was prepared when the World Wide Web was in its infancy and before museums and art dealers started to make digital images of Keith's prints readily available.  Despite what I'm sure were Miles' best efforts (I understand that it was put together hastily to meet the Pacific Asia Museum's exhibition opening date), the catalog is riddled with errors.  Woodblock prints are labeled as etchings or vice-versa, dimensions are reversed, erroneous titles or dates are ascribed to certain print designs, etc.  Miles' source of information about the number of sheets printed is unclear and in many cases questionable in light of copies which have since come to light.  Although print variants of many Keith designs exist, none are illustrated and only one is specifically mentioned by Miles.  Most unfortunate of all is the fact that the catalog omits over 20 of Keith's prints.  The correction of all such errors and omissions is beyond the scope of this post, but I thought it would nonetheless be useful for collectors to list in one place all of the omitted Keith print designs.

Elizabeth Keith (left) with Kate (Mrs. Charles W.) Bartlett (c. 1915)
by Tokyo photographer Y. Shimiozu
Personal Collection (ex. David Dolan/Bartlett Family Collection)

Miles organized his catalog according to the country depicted in Keith's prints and then by date, so I'll try follow the same approach.  Titles are largely descriptively attributed, although a few are titled on the front or on the back of the print in Keith's handwriting.  Unfortunately, the publication dates for most designs are approximate at best if not dated by Keith herself or listed in Watanabe Shozaburô's notebook.  Some can be inferentially inferred from the dates of related prints and others reflect dates that have been assigned to the prints by dealers or museums (and should be taken with a grain of salt).  The dimensions given are HxW, but most have not been personally verified.  Unless otherwise stated, the work illustrated is a woodblock print.

40A - Bell Tower, Soochow, China [1935]
34.3x 21.9 cm (13-1/2 x 8-5/8 in)
Personal Collection

Note: This print appears to be a companion print for Miles #37, Twin Pavilions, Soochow, China.

71A - East Gate. Seoul (Moonlight) (1920)
29.9 x 42.5 cm (11-3/4 x 16-3/4 in)

71B - White Buddha, Korea [1925]
39.9 x 28.4 cm (14-7/8 x 9-3/4 in)
(Personal Collection)

71C - Flying Kites (c. 1930)
14.5 x 10.0 cm (5-11/16 x 3-7/8 in)
Courtesy of 

Note: This design was also used on Korean Christmas Seals for 1936-1937.

 71D1 - Spinning Tops (c. 1930s)
Courtesy of

Note: This design was also used on Korean Christmas Seals for 1937-1938.

71D3 - Spinning Tops (c. 1930s) by Kim Ki-Chang
14.5 x 10.0 cm (5-11/16 x 3-7/8 in)
Courtesy of

 71E - Korean Mother and Child (1934)
45 x 38 cm (17-3/4 x 15 in)
(lithographic poster)

Note: This design was also used on Korean Christmas Seals for 1934-1935.

71F - The Country Scholar (c. 1938)
38.1 x 29.5 cm (15 x 11-5/8 in)

71G - Tong See, The Buddhist Priestess (unknown date and size)

 Note:  The preparatory drawing for this etching is illustrated in Old Korea.
91A - [Chinese or Singapore Woman and Children (c. 1924-1925)]
37.8 x 28.2 cm (14-7/8 x 11-1/8 in)
Personal Collection

92A - Philippine Lady (1924)
37.7 x 25.6 cm (14-7/8 x 10-1/16 in)
Courtesy of Hanga Gallery

92B - Moro Market Day, Baguio (1924)
25.4 x 37.8 cm (10 x 14-7/8 in)

92C - Santa Cruz Church, Manila (c. 1924-1925)
40.2 x 27.9 cm (15-13/16 x 11 in)
Courtesy of the Annex Galleries

Note: A color variant is known to exist.

92D - The Cock Fight, Manila (c. 1924-1925)
44.0 x 31.3 cm (17-5/16 x 12-3/8 in)
Courtesy of the Annex Galleries

Note: A color variant is known to exist.

92E - Street Scene, Singapore (1925)
32.7 x 28.7 cm (12-7/8 x 11-5/16 in)

92F - Philippine Woman (c. 1930)
14.9 x 11.4 cm (5-7/8 x 4-1/2 in)
Courtesy of The Art of Japan

Note: The red circular seal in this copy is said to denominate a print self-carved and printed by Keith.

108A - Fishing Village (c. 1924)
25 x 32 cm (9-7/8 x 12-9/16 in)
Courtesy of Saru Gallery

108B - Fruit Shop at Night, Kyoto (pre-1930)
38.0 x 25.5 cm (14-15/16 x 10-1/16 in)

Note: A color variant is known to exist.

108C - Amherst in Doshisha (c. 1932)
11.8 x 11.6 cm (4-5/8 x 4-9/16 in)
Courtesy of Hanga Gallery

108D - Shigeyama in Green Dress (1936)
44.1 x 32.4 cm (17-3/8 x 12-3/4 in)

108E - Man with Paint Bucket (unknown date and size)
Courtesy of Hanga Gallery

Note: The red circular seal in this copy is said to denominate a print self-carved and printed by Keith.  The preparatory drawing for this print is shown at page 76 of the Miles catalog.

108F - Doshisha Girl (unknown date)
22.2 x 10.8 cm (8-3/4 x 4-1/4 in)
Courtesy of The Art of Japan

Note: A color variant is known to exist.

Elizabeth Keith (left) with Kate Bartlett and Charles W. Bartlett in Hawaii (c. 1930s)
Personal Collection (ex. David Dolan/Bartlett Family Collection)

If you are aware of additional Keith woodblock prints or etchings not found in the Miles catalog, please let me know.

9/18/16 Postscript:  Since this post went on-line, I have made the acquaintance of Professor Young-dahl Song and his wife Kim.  Professor Song published a Korean text version of Keith's book Eastern Windows in Korea in 2012.  In addition to an original essay on Keith's life and work with particular emphasis on her relationship with Korea, this book is notable for a catalog at the end which lists all of Keith paintings and prints (with English captions) known as to Professor Song as of the publication date, almost all of which are accompanied by small color images.  It includes everything in the Miles catalog as well as many of the prints listed above, but arranged chronologically, rather than by geographic subject matter.  It is something that serious Keith collectors should seek for their reference libraries.

Also, the original version of this post included a print by M. Kennedy that had been misattributed by myself and others to Elizabeth Keith.  A separate post about this Kennedy print can be found here.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

The Asian Autumn of Mrs. Burton

The life and career of Elizabeth Eaton Burton (1869-1937) makes an interesting contrast to that of Marguerite Gifford’s, discussed in the prior post.  Whereas Gifford was born and bred in what would have been relatively provincial Louisville, Kentucky during The Gilded Age, Burton was born in Paris and raised in Paris, Versailles, Nice, and Le Croisic in Brittany during the early part of La Belle Époque, occasionally traveling to such places as Italy, Switzerland, and even India.  She was the daughter of the artist Charles F. Eaton and Helen Justice Mitchell, both of whom were art students at the Sorbonne from prominent East Coast families.  One of her childhood friends was the younger sister of John Singer Sargent, whose watercolors Burton copied in her youth.  Burton attended boarding school in England in 1885 and in Dresden the following year.  In 1886, however, when Burton was 17, Charles Eaton decided to move his family to the United States and settled in sunny Santa Barbara, California on account of his wife’s ill health.

Elizabeth Eaton Burton (1901)
Photograph by the painter and sculptor Frederick Remington

In December 1886, Burton meets her future husband, William (Billy) Waples Burton, an up-and-coming real estate developer, at a dance.  Together, the pair would become fixtures of Santa Barbara high society, attending balls, acting in local theatricals, organizing fundraisers for the new Cottage Hospital, etc.  (Japonisme was clearly all the rage at the time.   Burton’s husband attended a “Mikado” party in 1887, and there was a Japanese booth at the 1890 Trades Fair fundraising for the Cottage Hospital.  Santa Barbara also had its own Chinatown and Burton had Chinese house servants, so Asian as well as Spanish culture was never far away.)  Elizabeth and Billy would marry in 1893 and two children quickly followed.  So, like Gifford, Burton could have been content to have spent her middle years as a civic-minded wife and mother.  Burton, however, was very much her father’s child.

Mikado party at the Arlington Hotel, Santa Barbara (1887)
Mustachioed Billy Burton is seated at the center of the second row.

Upon settling in California, Charles Eaton established  himself as an Arts and Crafts designer, working in metal, leather, and glass, all of which he introduced to his daughter.  By 1896, Burton had opened up her own studio in Santa Barbara.  She applied for and received a patent for an ornamental leatherwork technique that she used on chests, screens, and furniture.  She also produced what were known as “shell lamps,” patinated brass or copper lamps decorated with Philippine window shell and/or pearl abalone.  By 1901 she had shows in both California and New York (which was praised in Vogue magazine), and she received favorable notices for her work at the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis in 1904.  Gustav Stickley visited Burton’s studio that same year and particularly praised her leather screens in The Craftsman.  In 1909 she won the gold medal at the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition in Seattle, and the Burton family moved to Los Angeles, where she opened up a new studio.

 Shell lamp by Elizabeth Eaton Burton, hammered and tooled copper
lily pad base with stem holding hammered and tooled leaves around shell

In 1920, however, Burton’s husband died of a heart attack, leaving her a widow at almost the exact age that Gifford was widowed (albeit a decade and a half earlier in time).  Like Gifford, two years later Burton decided to travel to Europe, spending much of her time in Paris and also in Brittany painting Breton peasant scenes.  Upon her return to Los Angeles, she lectured on her travels and published  a book about her time in Paris called “Paris Vignettes.”  In 1929, she became the president of the Alliance Français of Hollywood and subsequently was awarded the Palme Academique for her efforts in promoting French culture and art, the oldest extant civilian accolade awarded by the French Government.  Two more years were spent in France after her father died in 1930.

Elizabeth Eaton Burton (1932)

In 1933, Burton traveled to China and Japan to paint and to study woodblock printing.  She made watercolors of local scenes, temples, folktales, and a series of the attributes of Quan Yin.  A number of her watercolors were turned into woodblock prints by Japanese craftsmen.  According to Dan Lienau of the Annex Galleries, they were produced by the Tokyo publisher Kato Junji.  Her resulting watercolors and prints were displayed worldwide in a two-year solo exhibition in 1935-1936 that traveled from the Arlington Gallery in London to galleries in Peiping (Beijing), Shanghai, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and ending at the Schwartz Galleries in New York City.  Unlike Gifford, whose first trip to Europe and Asia would be the springboard to second act career as an artist, this traveling exhibition of her time in Asia would be Burton’s last hurrah.  She would pass away the following year after dictating her memoirs of her youth and time spent in Santa Barbara.

Elizabeth Eaton Burton in Japan (c. 1933)

I’m aware of six woodblock prints designed by Burton, although it is possible that others were made.  Her watercolors translated well to the woodblock print medium, and at one of her paintings of a Japanese Shrine on Stilts contains cartouches with kanji inscriptions, which suggests that it also might have been intended to be turned into a print.

Temple Courtyard (c. 1933)
Collection of Mary Burton Fussell

Temple Courtyard (c. 1933)
Personal Collection
(woodblock print)

Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara (c. 1933)
Personal Collection
(woodblock print)

Women with Parasols on Bridge (c. 1933)
Collection of Mary Burton Fussell
(woodblock print)

Magnolia (c. 1933)
Courtesy of the Annex Galleries
(woodblock print)

 Weeping Cherry Blossoms (c. 1933)
Courtesy of Toomey & Co.
(woodblock print)

 Quan Yin (aka Lotus Goddess or Woman with Lotuses) (c. 1933)
Courtesy of Steven Savitt and Mary Lynn Baum
(woodblock print)

Burton's "Quan Yin" print is reminiscent of the print work of Bertha Lum.  Indeed, that goddess figures in a number of Lum's paintings and prints.  Lum would have been in Peiping in 1933, so it is entirely possible that the two might have met.  I wonder if they ever did.

Kwanyin, Goddess of Mercy (1935) by Bertha Lum
Courtesy of the Hanga Gallery
(hand-colored raised-line woodblock print)

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Asian Spring of Mrs. Gifford

Born and bred in Louisville, Kentucky, Marguerite Peters Gifford (1887-1969) spent the first half of her life as a college-educated, upper-middle class wife whose pastimes seem to consist of membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution and president of the Woman’s Club of Louisville.  Then, in 1935, Gifford’s Louisville routine was interrupted by the premature death of her husband.  Two years later, at age 50, this Louisville widow went on a two-month tour sponsored by the International School of Art, visiting artists in four European countries.  When the tour was over, Gifford decided to remain behind in Europe.  During her time abroad, she took lessons in watercolor painting in London, and was in Florence in 1938 and saw Benito Mussolini receive Adolf Hitler.

Passport of Marguerite Gifford

In 1939, with war looming in Europe, Gifford turned her sights to travel in Asia and Oceania. She visited such cities as Bombay, Bangkok, and Hong Kong on her way to Japan.

 Greeting From Bangkok (c. 1939-1940)
(unknown medium)

While in Japan, Gifford studied woodblock printing, apprenticing herself to two Japanese printmakers.  As far as I know, Gifford never mastered that medium, but she arranged for a certain number of her designs to be turned into woodblock prints by Japanese craftsman.  At present, I’ve located images of three such prints bearing the name “Marguerite Gifford.”  (If a reader is aware of images of any further designs, please let me know.)  

Siamese Temple (aka "Temple (Chiang Mai), Siam") (c. 1939-1940)
Carver:  Fujikawa [Fujikawa Saburô]; Printer: Ono-Gin [Ono Ginatarô]
(woodblock print)

Wat Phra Singh viharn, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The first of the four prints bears the inscription “Siamese Temple,” evidently memorializing one of the sites she visited during her time in Thailand.  The structure is similar to the Wat Phra Singh viharn in the old center of Chiang Mai but, since there are over 200 temples in and around Chiang Mai, there are note doubt many other likely candidates.

Pirano, Slovenia (c. 1939-1940)
Carver: Takano [Takano Shinchinosuke]; Printer: Ono-Hiko [Ono Hikojirô];
Personal Collection
(woodblock print)

 Pirano, Slovenia

The second print, which I bought from Steven Thomas, is untitled.  Based on the type of sailboats, the city architecture (note in particular the tower structure in the upper left if you click on the image), and the figures, the locale would appear to be European.  My original guess was the harbor at Genoa, or perhaps Livorno, since we know Gifford visited nearby Florence.  But recent information suggests that it's Pirano, Slovenia, near Trieste, and that tower is the bell tower of the Church of Saint Clemente adjacent to the Punta Madonna lighthouse.  It's even possible that the initials “SC” stand for "San Clemente," but if there is such a sailing vessel in Pirano harbor today, I’ve not been able to discover it.

The Arno (Florence) (c. 1939-1940)
Carver: Kawaii?; Printer: Ono-Gin [Ono Ginatarô]
Personal Collection
(woodblock print)

The third (badly faded) print is of a view from the Arno river in Florence.  A sticker on the back of the print's frame indicates that it was based on a painting made in 1938, which would be consistent with the time that Gifford was in Italy.  All three of the above prints were produced by the famous Tokyo woodblock print publisher Watanabe Shozaburô, who issued shin hanga prints by Kawase Hasui, Ito Shinsui, Charles W. Bartlett, and Elizabeth Keith, among others.  Watanabe’s copyright seal (“Watanabe Saku”) on these print has some similarities to those found on other prints that he published in the 1934-1945 time period, although I’ve not seen this exact seal on any of Watanabe’s other prints.

 Close-up of Watanabe's publisher seal

Gifford’s fourth print, “Doshisha Tokiwai Mon (Side Gate at Doshisha University, Kyoto),” however, appears to lack any seal to identify the publisher, the carver, or the print.  Gifford’s design, however, may itself provide a visual clue as to the identity of the publisher. 

Doshisha Tokiwai Mon (c. 1939-1940)
Personal Collection
(woodblock print)
When I first saw an image of this print, I was immediately struck by the manner in which the little girl in the print was depicted.  There is a young Japanese girl in a similar pose in a 1928 print by Hiroshi Yoshida.  Yoshida also issued small, non-canonical postcard-size prints that featured that same little girl.  Did Gifford copy her little girl from one of those Yoshida prints?  Did she commission the print from the Yoshida studio in Tokyo?  Did she perhaps even apprentice with Hiroshi Yoshida or one of his craftsmen?  The answer might lie in Gifford’s papers now residing at the Bridwell Art Library at the University of Louisville, but must remain a mystery for the time being.

Sleigh (1927)  by Hiroshi Yoshida
(woodblock print)
 [Young Japanese Girl] (circa 1927) by Hiroshi Yoshida
(woodblock print)

Gifford appears to have left Japan before the end of 1940, likely because of Japan joining the Tripartite Pact in September and the continuing Japanese military expansion into Indochina.  She moved on to New Zealand and New Caledonia, spending many months in the latter archipelago painting the indigenous Kanaka inhabitants, before returning home in the fall of 1941.  She had been abroad for over four years.

 Kanaka Chief from New Caledonia (c. 1940-1941)
(unknown medium)

Upon her return to the U.S., Gifford lectured about her travels and continued to study art.  She became a well-known figure in the Kentucky art scene for the rest of her life, exhibiting her work both in and out of the state.  Hers was a truly an artistic career which blossomed late in life.  She worked in a number of different media but, as far as I know, turned her attention to American subjects and designed no further woodblock prints.

Self-Portrait by Marguerite Gifford
Courtesy of a Reader
(oil on board)

Addendum of August 23, 2015:  Dr. Kendall Brown, the premier shin hanga scholar, was kind enough to share with me copies of pages of Watanabe Shozaburô's notebook listing Gifford's prints that Watanabe's studio published.  They are:

1.  Veere (The Netherlands)
2.  Pirano, Italy [sic: Slovenia] (shown above)
3.  The Arno (Florence)
4.  Dock (Bombay)
5.  Temple (Chinmai [Chiang Mai]), Siam (shown above)
6.  Siamese Girl Preparing Fruit
7.  Philippines Flower Girl
8.  Maruyama Cherry Trees, Kyoto

In light of this information, I have revised the blog entry above accordingly.  Clearly there are more Gifford prints out there somewhere than I had imagined.  And since "Doshisha Tokiwai Mon" was not listed as one of Watanabe-published Gifford prints, that provides greater credence to the theory that it might have been published by Yoshida's studio.

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