highlights international perspective
Lilian May Miller, (American, b. Japan 1895-1943)

Morning Snow on Bamboo (B)

Color woodblock print with mica ground. With artist's rectangular monogram LMM at lower right, and signed and dated in ink, Lilian Miller/1928 at lower left. The title stamped on the bottom margin, MORNING SNOW ON BAMBOO, JAPAN B...LILIAN MILLER Oriental Woodcuts. Self-carved and very likely self-printed by the artist while in Japan, ca. 1928.

44 by 17 cm

Miller's early prints, published in 1919-1920, were certainly carved by Matsumoto and printed by Nishimura Kumakichi, but at some point along the way, she learned block-carving and printing herself. In 1927-1928, Miller began producing prints again during a period of convalescence with her parents in Seoul (financial ruin due to the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake was followed by a serious long illness). The prints from this period are somewhat more stylized than her earlier works; the simplified compositions would have facilitated her 'self-carved, self-printed' efforts. This skill set her apart from the small circle of foreign print artists plying the market for nostalgic views of 'old Japan.' Ironically, the one who was the most Japanese of them all, having been born and partially raised there, took the most 'Western' approach - that of the individual artist controlling every aspect of production and thus achieving true creative independence.

In his monograph on Charles W. Bartlett (cat. nos. 13-16), Richard Miles wrote: "Only the redoubtable Lilian May Miller among Westerners who attempted pure "self-carved, self-printed" works could be accused of success." (A Printmaker in Paradise, p.64).

References:
Yokohama Museum of Art, Eyes Towards Asia: Ukiyo-e Artists from Abroad, 1996, p. 244
Brown, Between Two Worlds: The Life and Art of Lilian May Miller, 1998, p. 46, fig. 43
Brown, Lilian Miller: An American Artist in Japan, in Impressions 27, 2006, pp. 80-97

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site last updated
March 22, 2019

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