Side Gate at Doshisha University, Kyoto [Gardener's Cottage]
(Doshisha Tokiwai Mon)
printed signature at lower right, Marguerite Gifford, and printed titled in the upper margin, Doshisha Tokiwai Mon, possibly produced in the studio of Hiroshi Yoshida, with partially smudge pencil notations on the bottom margin, 7.60, 16/23 (?), ca. 1939-1940
10 5/8 by 14 1/8 in., 26.9 by 35.8 cm
In 1937, two years after the unexpected passing of her husband and at the age of 50, Marguerite Gifford embarked on what was meant to be a two-month tour of tour European countries organized by the International School of Art, studying watercolor painting while in London. When the tour was completed, Gifford repeatedly extended her journey, at first remaining in Europe and then in 1939, she continued to Asia, visiting Bombay, Bangkok and Hong Kong en route to Japan. While in Japan, Gifford studied woodblock printing, apprenticing herslef to two (as yet unidentified) printmakers (it is unclear if this refers to carver, printer, or publisher). It seems at least one individual may have been the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962), or a craftsman associated with him. Watanabe spoke English and frequently collaborated with Western artists, including Gifford, for whom he recorded producing eight woodblock prints. The editions of those designs must have been quite small because to date, images of only three of the Watanabe-produced prints have been located.
This print is not listed in Watanabe's records, and as such, would appear to be the result of Gifford's association with the second 'printmaker.' In his article on Gifford, Darrel Karl theorizes convincingly that this print was likely published in the studio of Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) because the young girl in this composition is strikingly reminiscent of a figure that is found on two different woodblock prints by the artist (see detail below). Indeed, Yoshida, like Watanabe, also spoke English and ran a robust woodblock print studio. Interestingly, while Watanabe was well-known for sympathetically adapting paintings by Western artists into woodblock prints, the Yoshida family studio became well-known for training artists to carve and print woodblock prints themselves. And while this print does not seem to be the product of a novice carver and/or printer in any way, it certainly stands to reason that Gifford may have been involved in some way with its production while the professionals completed the edition.
A framed impression of this design was recently discovered with a hand-written note by Gifford affixed to the back with an explanation of the subject:
Doshisha Missionary College
first in Japan
Gardener's Cottage on compound of Doshisha College in Kyoto Japan.
Doshisha is the first Missionary College in Japan. The Missionaries with whom I stayed wanted me to paint the building. When I found it, red brick with white-stone trimming I asked the privilege of painting instead, the gardener's cottage as more significant in Japan.
(The Japanese President of the College afterward asked the privilege of printing the painting on his Christmas card, which he did.[)]
Mrs. Morris Gifford"
Darrel Karl, The Asian Spring of Mrs. Gifford, Eastern Impressions: Western Printmakers and the Orient, easternimp.blogspot.com, August 15, 2015 (with note by Gifford courtesy of Serge Astieres)
(inv. no. 10-5145)
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