Japanese Woodblock Print, 1903, first edition published by Kobayashi Bunshichi
SIZE IN INCHES: 10 x 14.5 inches, printed on tissue
CHARLES HOVEY PEPPER was born in 1864 in Waterville, Maine. He attended Colby College where he completed a bachelor of arts in 1889, and a masters in arts in 1891. By 1893 he had migrated to Paris where he studied at the Academie Julian (also attended by Arthur Wesley Dow), and set up a studio in Paris. While in Paris, Pepper began collecting Japanese woodblock prints, which brought him in contacct with Sigfried Bing, a prominent art dealer of Japonisme and Art Nouveau. He returned to America in 1899 and married.
In 1903, he and his wife embarked on a year-long tour of Asia, with the first destination being Japan. 1903 was the same year that Arthur Wesley Dow and Bertha Lum visited Japan, and Helen Hyde set up her studio in Tokyo. Pepper visited Hyde, who advised him to take a house in Nikko, where a local contact arranged three models for him. The result was a set of four figural color woodblock prints which were printed and published by the ukiyo-e dealer and publisher, Kobayashi Bunshichi (in who's employ was the young Shozoburo Watanabe). This print is among the first designed by a Western artist ever published in Japan, and was certainly an influence on the shin hanga movement that would blossom shortly afterward.