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Artist: Elizabeth Keith

Title: Two court musicians, Korea

Format: Etching

Size: 14 7/8'' x 20 1/8''

Fine condition and color.

Edition # 2 / 25, only known edition of this rare print.

Illustrated: Color plate VIII in Masters of the Colour Print 9, Elizabeth Keith,

The Studio, 1933.

Also illustrated in a color plate on page 39 in Eastern Windows by Elizabeth Keith, 1928.

Elizabeth Keith - Two court musicians, Korea

  • Elizabeth Keith's (30 April 1887 – 1956) work consists of prints depicting Asian life and culture, a fascination she acquired when she traveled to Tokyo at the age of twenty-eight. She remained there for nine years studying the culture and drawing its people, places, and things. In her first year in Japan, she had a small exhibition with caricatures of foreign residents in Tokyo, which she published as a book benefiting the Red Cross entitled Grin and Bear It. She brought some watercolors back from a trip to Korea and exhibited them in Tokyo--she claimed it was "the first exhibition of Korean subjects ever held there."Watanabe Shōzaburō, the Shin-hanga publisher, saw her exhibition and convinced Keith to transform one into a woodblock print - a view of the East Gate in Seoul.


    Keith would continue her travels throughout Asia, visiting China, Korea, and the Philippines, gathering more subjects for her artwork. She learned the methods of traditional Japanese woodblock printing, emulating the work of Katsushika Hokusai, Ando Hiroshige, and Kitagawa Utamaro. Keith’s work gained popularity not only in Japan but also in London and New York. Landscapes, people in traditional and typical dress, and cultural rituals were central to her imagery. She also created portrait prints in the vein of a Chinese painted portrait tradition called xingle tu or "pleasure portraits.”


    In 1924 Keith returned to Britain, where she started to learn color etching techniques, and in 1925 began to print her works, using an initial seal "in the oriental manner" to sign them. In 1928, she published an illustrated travel diary of her time in Asia called Eastern Windows. Keith traveled back to Asia and Japan twice from 1929 to 1934 during which she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London.


    By 1936 and 1937, Keith had exhibitions in America, supported by California-based collector of Asian art Grace Nicholson, as well as an exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery in London, which drew the attention of Queen Elizabeth, culminating in a visit by the Queen Mother herself.. During World War II, Keith raised money to assist Chinese women affected by Japan's military violence, though she apparently "retained warm feelings for her many Japanese friends.” - Wikipedia

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