Providing fine art to collectors, museums, corporations, and the trade since 1977.
Specializing in rare 18th - 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints
Notes: Obata comments, "This little stream, after having been born at the foot of Mount Hoffmann, comes down murmuring and whispering, leaping and jumping, winding through the forest of gigantic trees for forty miles - and down it goes, 1,900 feet over the cliff, forming one if the world-famous natural wonders, the Yosemite Falls. Its roaring and thundering sounds bound and rebound against the mountaintops and make the whole atmosphere vibrant." The Eagle Peak Trail climbs from the Yosemite Valley floor to the top of Yosemite Falls. Begun in 1928 when Obata visited Japan, the World Landscape Series took 18 months to complete. The project required the work of 32 block carvers and 40 printers with each print requiring from 100 to as many as 160 impressions in order to accurately replicate Obata's original watercolors. The folio consisted of 35 colored woodblock prints. All but one show California scenes, and 27 are views of Yosemite and the High Sierra. It is believed that 100 folios were sent to the artist. Not all of the prints were signed and sealed. Each print has the publishers name stamped on the reverse. The folder illustration shows the publisher's watermark, visible below the title slip.
PRINTS BY OBATA IN FINE CONDITION, EXHIBITING FRESH COLORS, AS WITH THESE, ARE VERY RARE.
LIKE THE SET IN THE ACHENBACH/FINE ARTS MUSEUM OF SAN FRANCISCO, THE PRINTS IN THIS GROUP, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF "FOGGY MORNING, VAN NESS AVENUE" ARE UNSIGNED.
Chiura Obata was born in 1885 in Okayama prefecture, Japan. At the age of 14 he went to Tokyo where he studied with Tanryo Murata, Kogyo Terasaki and Goho Hasimoto. In 1903 he moved to San Francisco. While working as an illustrator for the city's Japanese newspapers The New World and the Japanese American, Obata made on-site sketches of the San Francisco earthquake. He married Haruki Kohashi in 1912, and from 1915 to 1927 worked as an illustrator for Japan Magazine. He spent much of the 20's painting landscapes throughout California and helped establish the East West Art Society in San Francisco in 1921. Spent the summer of 1927 on a sketching tour of Yosemite and the Sierra high country producing over 100 new paintings. In 1928 Obata returned to Japan, following his father's death. While there, he supervised the production of 35 colored woodblock prints of California landscapes for his World Landscape Series. They were exhibited at the "Eighty-Seventh Annual Exhibition" at Ueno Park, Tokyo; Lake Basin in the High Sierra won first prize. In 1932 Obata was appointed as an instructor in the Art Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Between 1930 and 1941, One-man exhibitions were held in numerous locations. In April 1942, Obata was interned at the Tanforan detention center where, during his stay, he organized an art school with over 650 camp residents as students. In September 1942, he was moved to the Topez Relocation Center, Topez, Utah. Released from Topaz in 1943, he moved with his family to St Louis, finding employment with a commercial art company. In 1945, when the military exclusion ban was lifted, Obata was reinstated as an instructor at U.C. Berkeley. He was promoted to Associate Professor of Art in 1948.
One-Man shows continued, as did his sketching and painting trips in the high country, often with the Sierra Club. In 1954 he became a naturalized citizen and retired as Professor Emeritus from U.C. Berkeley. From 1955 to 1970 he traveled throughout California giving lectures and demonstrations on Japanese brush painting. In 1965 he received the Order of the Sacred Treasure, 5th Class, Emperor's Award, for promoting good will and cultural understanding between the United States and Japan. He died in 1975, aged 90.
Posthumous exhibitions of Chiura Obata works have been organized at the Oakland Museum, The Smithsonian Institution and most recently at the M.H. de Young Museum in San Francisco, in 2000.