Japanese Woodblock Print, 1920s, first and only edition raised line woodblock, molded paper and hand painting with printed key lines; metallic gold paint used for arm bands, bracelet, belt and hair.
SIZE IN INCHES: approx. 14 x 21.5 inches
BERTHA LUM (1869-1954), was an American artist active from the early 1900s through 1930s, who made a significant contribution to the Japonisme movment with her woodblock prints and paintings. Lum's work combines sinuous Art Nouveau curves and lines with flat planes of color that recall ukiyo-e.
Lum first visited Japan while on her honeymoon in 1903, where she became interested in ukiyo-e woodblock prints, and received some rudimentary instruction on the process of making them. She returned several years later in 1907, when through a letter of introduction she became the student of the master carver Bonkotsu Igami. Lum carved and printed her own prints during these early years of her work, and mastered both, but by 1911, she decided to hire carvers and printers to work under her supervision.
While living in Peking in 1922, Lum developed a new type of print, often referred to as a raised line print, of which the print at auction is a supreme example. First, she molded wet paper over a carved wooden block. After the paper dried, she hand painted the embossed paper using the raised lines to delineate the areas of colors. In contrast to her woodblock prints, which were printed by artisans to look almost exactly alike, Lum's raised line prints often had significant variations in colors. It is not known how many raised line prints were made from each key block, but the editions were likely much smaller than her woodblock prints.