Mt. Orizaba from Jalapa [Mexico]
color woodblock print on tissue-thin paper, copyright 1912 by Helen Hyde along inside edge of top border, with artist's HH monogram and clover seal at lower left corner, published by the artist in Japan, with blocks carved by Matsumoto and printed by Murata Shojiro, 1912
13 3/8 by 11 1/8 in., 34 by 28.1 cm
In 1899, Hyde traveled to Japan where she began studying the Japanese language and took lessons in ink painting from Kano Tomonobu (1843-1912). While in Japan, Hyde also sought out the means to produce color woodblock prints. Her first attempt in 1900, was arranged by Ernest Fenollosa (1853-1908) in care of the publisher Kobayashi Bunshichi (1863-1923). In order to learn how to produce color woodblock prints herself, Hyde sought out the advice of the artist Emil Orlik (1870-1932), an Austrian artist who had taught himself to carve and print while living in Munich, but had come to Japan in order to refine his skills. Orlik gave Hyde a set of tools and taught her block carving. Hyde also studied with a Japanese printer. Although Orlik helped Hyde grasp the fundamentals of woodblock printmaking, she quickly realized that it would be more efficient to hire Japanese craftsmen for the labor-intensive tasks of carving and printing. This is similar to the traditional Japanese hanmoto (publisher) system which involves the collaboration of artist, carver and printer; however, in this case, Hyde was both the artist and the publisher.
Hyde returned to the states in 1905-1906 on business, and again in 1910-1912, however this trip was prompted by health concerns, as she needed an operation for cancer. Most of 1911 was spent recuperating in Mexico, where she continued to produce drawings and watercolors which she then made into prints when she returned to Japan in 1912.
Given Hyde's association with Japan, this composition at first glance appears to be a depiction of Mt. Fuji. However, it is actually based on sketches Hyde made while visiting the health resort at Jalapa on the east coast of Mexico. The mountain depicted is the highest peak in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba, an inactive volcano with a well-formed snow-covered cone (much like Mt. Fuji). This is Hyde's only true landscape print, and although the subject is not from Japan, the composition is very reminiscent of 19th century Japanese landscape prints.
Nancy E. Green, Arthur Wesley Dow and His Influence, 1990, illus. 46
Tim Mason and Lynn Mason, American Printmakers: Helen Hyde, 1991, p. 56, cat. no. 98
Claire de Heeckeren d'Anthes, Helen Hyde: An American Japoniste, 1992, illus. p. 18
Nancy E. Green and Jessie Poesch, Arthur Wesley Dow and American Arts & Crafts, 1999, p. 30
(inv. no. C-3044)
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