Elizabeth Keith1887 - 1956
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The Scottish-born artist Elizabeth Keith first went to Japan in 1915 on the invitation of her sister’s husband, who was a publisher in Tokyo. This intended holiday developed into a wandering stay of nine years, during which time Elizabeth Keith travelled widely throughout the Orient. She achieved local notoriety in Tokyo in 1917 with the publication of a group of caricatures which she had made of local socialites and dignitaries. It was after one of these designs was translated into a traditional Japanese-style woodblock print by another artist that Elizabeth Keith first became interested in this art form.
When the publisher Shosaburo Watanabe approached Keith with the idea of publishing her designs in the traditional Japanese woodblock format, Keith leapt at the opportunity. The traditional Japanese art of ukiyo-e colour printmaking involves the sequential superimposition of multiple carved printing blocks. Elizabeth Keith spent the next two years learning the techniques of carving and printing using the traditional ukiyo-e method, finally producing her first fully fledged works in the medium in 1919. Elizabeth Keith went on to produce some of the finest colour woodblock prints of her generation and is now considered to have been one of the world’s finest woodblock print artists in the Japanese ukiyo-e (floating world) style. [more]