Monday, May 6, 2019

Helen Hyde: Artisit Adventurer

Annamaria on Monday

My focus this week is an adventurous California-bred woman who fell in love with Japan and after learning a great deal about it, went to live there to practice her art.  Yes, I know you are thinking this description applies to own Susan Spann.  But this is different adventurer, a painter not a writer -  Helen Hyde:

Here are the two print images of her work in my collection:

Hyde was born in 1868 in Lima, a town in upstate New York (whose name is pronounced like the bean, if you can believe it).  She studied art with a neighboring painter for two years,  and then, after the death of her father when she was fourteen, she and her family went to live with an aunt in San Francisco.  There she attended the California School of Design.  Here are some of her early images of the beautiful  California Bay Area coastline:

Helen Hyde was one of the those adventuring women artists who struck out on their own to fulfill their artistic destiny.   After her formal education, she spent six years in Berlin, Paris, and Japan studying art, especially the current rage at the time: Japanism.  Eventually she moved to Japan and became a master of Japanese painting techniques and pretty much single handedly raised the Japanese technique of woodblock printing to a fine art.

Here are some better representations of the prints I own:

"Going to the Fair"

"New Year's Day in Tokyo" 

These two are ones that David and I gave to our granddaughters as birthday gifts:

"Her Bit"
Made during WWI, when women were knitting for the troops.

"Summer Girl"

Here are a some of my favorite of her images from the extensive Smithsonian archive of Helen Hyde's works. The first two are the most admired of her works.

"A Monarch of Japan"
This work won first place in the 1901 Nihon Kaiga Kyokai Exhibition

"Baby Talk"
Gold Medalist at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exhibition
"Moonlight on the Viga Canal"
From Hyde's time in Mexico

Some Cherry Blossoms for you, Susan
"Bamboo Gate"
One David and I sorely wanted to buy, but the auction price went too high for us
I love the composition of this one.
Carrying firewood, women's work all over the world.
Here's a mountain for you, Susan


  1. I love the colours of moonlight on the canal, there's a lot of short stories could come out of that!

  2. I agree about the colours of the moonlight on the canal, Caro. So hard to reproduce those sky colours without them appearing gaudy.

    Beautiful pictures, Annamaria. I can see why you wanted to buy the bamboo gate picture, but they are all delightful.

  3. What an extraordinary collection. Japan just seems to bring out brilliance in the arts.