highlights international perspective

Charles W. Bartlett, (English, 1860-1940)

2nd Series. Japan: Shoji

Color woodblock print (a variant blue palette). The artist's CWB monogram in the composition at lower left, with title cartouche SHOJI.1916. Publisher's round Watanabe seal at lower right. Signed in pencil on the bottom margin, Charles W. Bartlett.

28.4 by 40.3 cm

Alternate titles: Fujiyama Amid Clouds; and Shoji, Fujiyama

In 1917, the Bartletts left Japan and journeyed to Shanghai, Seoul, Beijing (Peking), and then Honolulu, which they found very much to their liking and made their permanent residence. They returned to Japan in 1919, resulting in the production of more woodblock prints with Watanabe, including two striking designs (each with two variant impressions) based on Hawaiian surfers. All told, Watanabe published thirty-eight Bartlett designs, most in 1916 and 1919, which were very well received on the American market. Curiously, a New York exhibition catalogue from 1919 makes no mention of Watanabe's role in the process, thus it is not too surprising that there was a misconception that Bartlett made the prints "entirely by himself," an inaccuracy that he apparently did not take pains to correct (Miles, A Printmaker in Paradise, p. 62).

Bartlett did not return to Japan again, but sent watercolors to Watanabe to be used to create woodblock prints. The last dated print from Watanabe was produced in 1925. Although much of Bartlett's fame was achieved due to his woodblock prints, as a matter of practicality he increasingly focused on etchings and commissions of European-style portraits.

References:
Meech, Japonisme: Graphic Arts in the 20th Century, in The New Wave, 1993, pp. 46-47; and p. 211, pl. 292
Merritt, Points of Contrast, 1993, pp. 36-39
Yokohama Museum of Art, Eyes Towards Asia: Ukiyo-e Artists from Abroad, 1996, p. 84, no. 100
Miles & Saville, A Printmaker in Paradise: The Art and Life of Charles W. Bartlett, 2001, p. 120, no. 35

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