“Temple Gate” (1913)

“Temple Gate” (1913)
by Bertha Lum (1879-1954)
5 x 10 in., color woodcut on cream, thin Japanese woven paper
Coppola Collection

Bertha Boynton Bull studied art at the Institute of Art at Chicago from 1895-1900. She was a student of stained glass artwork with Anna Weston. She then studied with Frank Holme, who founded the Chicago School of Illustration in 1898, and who was trying to print with woodblocks.

In 1903, she married Burt F. Lum, and honeymooned in Japan, which captivated her interests. She returned to Japan over the course of the next 16 years, learning to carve woodblock, make and color prints. She spent some of her later years in Beijing, adapting a hybrid approach to her printmaking.

She is credited for helping to make the Japanese and Chinese woodblock print known outside of Asia.

This piece is striking in person. The tones are muted and the paper, itself, is as light as a feather but super-tough. The other examples I can find all list it as a 1912 edition, but this one is dated 1913. Not all of her work carries the name stamp, but the example held by the Minneapolis Institute of Art does (and do most of their examples). The coloration on theirs is also (clearly) different from mine, although the size is exactly the same.

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