Emil Orlik, 1870-1932
Japanese Resting on the Mountain
(Japaner bei der Rast im Gebirge)
color woodblock print; signed and dated in pencil on lower right margin, Emil Orlik 1900, published by the artist while in Japan, very likely self-carved and self-printed
25.6 by 33.9 cm
Emil Orlik was born in Prague in 1870, when it was still a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As a student he moved to Germany in 1889 in order to enroll at the Academy of Fine Art in Munich, although he wasn't admitted until 1891. Orlik quickly gained recognition at the academy; however in 1893 he left before graduating because he began to feel stifled by his professors who objected to his experimentations with etching and lithography. He was a prolific artist; in addition to his paintings and etchings, Orlik produced magazine and book illustrations, poster, stage and costume designs.
In 1896 he began to develop his own style of color woodcut. Together with a friend from the academy, Orlik made use of an article which had been recently published in English, Japanese Wood-Cutting and Wood-Cut Printing (Smithsonian, 1892), which was written by T. Tokuno, the head of the Japanese Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In 1898, Orlik went on a tour of Europe, including England, Scotland, Belgium, Holland, and his first visit to Paris, where he became more keenly aware of the French interpretation of Japanese art: Japonisme. This inspired Orlik to pursue the source: in March 1900 he traveled to Japan with the specific intention of learning as much as possible about Japanese woodblock printmaking. He was a determined student; he studied the language in advance, and within a few months he was conversant enough to explore Tokyo and the countryside on his own. While in Japan, Orlik met the young American artist Helen Hyde (cat. nos. 4-8), who sought his help and advice on carving and printing (Mason & Mason, p. 19). He stayed in Japan until November 1901, producing woodblock prints as well as lithographs and etchings, some of which were completed upon his return to Europe (Wolman, www.orlikprints.com).
Meech & Weisberg, Japonisme Comes to America, 1990, pp. 114-115
Yokohama Museum of Art, Eyes Towards Asia: Ukiyo-e Artists from Abroad, 1996, pp. 239-240
Katherine Martin, Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Three - The International Perspective, New York: Scholten Japanese Art, 2008, no. 3
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