Bertha Lum
American, 1869-1954

Compelled by her personal fascination with Japanese and Chinese woodblock prints, Bertha Lum became a master of the medium, which she is acclaimed for having popularized outside of Asia. Lum was born in Iowa and studied design and figurative drawing at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was inspired by the color woodblock techniques of her teacher, Frank Holme, and the Japanese prints she saw at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Lum chose to honeymoon in Japan, where she collected ukiyo-e woodcut prints and sought the basic knowledge and tools to begin printmaking. Though initially self-taught, Lum returned to Japan to apprentice with master carver Bonkotsu Igami, and became a highly skilled printmaker known to reference Asian folklore in the combined styles of traditional Japanese woodblock and Art Nouveau.

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