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Charles Hovey Pepper, (American, 1864-1950)


Color woodblock print. Signed Charles Hovey Pepper with artist's seal. The title Yaeiko (the name of the model), at lower left, and publisher's seal Tsuta (ivy) of Kobayashi Bunshichi at lower right. Printed in Japan ca. 1903.

31.12 by 23.5 cm

Alternate titles: The Kakemono; The Hanging Scroll; Girl with Scroll

Pepper, Japanese Prints, Boston, 1905
Meech & Weisberg, Japonisme Comes to America, 1990, pp. 156-163, pl. 116 and pl. 117 for a photograph of model, 'Yayako in the Garden at Nikko' wearing a similar kimono.

Charles Hovey Pepper was born in 1864 in Waterville, Maine, where his father, Dr. George Pepper, was a clergyman and the President of Colby College from 1882-1887. After graduating from The Coburn Classical Institute in 1884, Pepper attended Colby where he completed a bachelor of arts in 1889 and a master of arts in 1891. He studied at the Art Students League in New York from 1890-1893, and then in Paris at the Académie Julian from 1893-1895, the same school that Arthur Wesley Dow (cat. nos. 1-2) had attended four years earlier. After leaving the academy Pepper stayed in Paris where he set up a studio and received early recognition for his work; his paintings were selected for exhibition at the Paris Salon in 1894, 1895, 1897, and 1898.

While in Paris, Pepper began collecting Japanese woodblock prints, which must have brought him in contact with Siegfried Bing (1838-1905), a prominent art dealer who played a significant role in promoting Japonisme and in the development of the art nouveau style. In 1897, Bing gave Pepper his first solo exhibition at his famous gallery, Maison de l'Art Nouveau.

Pepper returned to Massachusetts in 1899 and settled with his wife in Concord. In 1903, they embarked on a year-long tour of Asia and the Middle East. His first destination was Japan, where he stayed for several months to collect and study paintings and woodblock prints. This is the same year that Dow and Bertha Lum (cat. nos. 9-10) both visited Japan, and Helen Hyde (cat. nos. 5-8) set up her new residence in Tokyo. Shortly after his arrival, Pepper visited Hyde who advised him to take a house in Nikko for a period, where a local contact arranged three models for him. The result was a set of four figural color woodblock prints which were printed by the ukiyo-e dealer and publisher, Kobayashi Bunshichi (1864-1923). When Dow arrived in Japan, his first stop was Kobayashi's Yokohama shop, where he was shown the Pepper prints which were in production at the time.

In 1905, Pepper wrote a small reference book, Japanese Color Prints, which was published by Boston dealer Walter Kimball, and included detailed explanations on Japanese printmaking history and techniques. Most of Pepper's Japanese woodblock prints (along with some of his own original prints) were eventually donated to Colby College and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


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site last updated
May 25, 2023

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475