signed in pencil at lower right, Elizabeth Keith, with 1922 date and artist's oval EK seal within the keyblock and titled at lower left, Lama Temple Peking, published by Watanabe Shozaburo, 1922
oban yoko-e 10 3/8 by 15 3/8 in., 26.5 by 38.9 cm
Elizabeth Keith was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, but raised in Ireland. Keith had natural artistic talents but no formal art training. In 1915 she traveled to Japan to visit her sister Jessie, who had married J. W. Robertson Scott, the publisher of The New East (Shin Toyo), a monthly bilingual magazine. The trip was supposed to last a few months, but Keith was so taken by Japan she ended up staying nearly nine years. She traveled extensively using Tokyo as her home base, and became particularly fond of Korea, which she visited with Jessie for the first time in 1919. Upon their return to Tokyo, she exhibited watercolors from the trip at the Mitsukoshi department store, where she encountered the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962). Although they had not previously met, Keith would have been well aware of Watanabe, not only by reputation, but also because he had published the prints of her good friend, Charles W. Bartlett (1860-1940).
Miles notes that the blocks for this print (and unsold impressions) were lost in the 1923 earthquake, and quotes Keith's comments on this scene: "This is the Temple presented to the Emperor Chi'en Lung and for this reason the roofs are tiled in the royal colour. The view is of the entrance front of the central building as seen from one of the courts."
Keith returned to London in 1924, and in the following year this print was included in her first European exhibition, 'Colour-Prints of the Far East' at the Beaux Arts Gallery in Bruton Place, which was announced to great fanfare with full-page illustrations in a supplement accompanying an article in the November 21st edition of the Illustrated London News. The paper followed-up on February 20, 1926, with a second supplement of additional illustrations including this print. The enthusiastic publicity may have been what prompted a visit to the exhibition by H.I.H. Prince Yasuhito Chichibu, the brother of H.I.M. Emperor Taisho of Japan, who was a student at Oxford at the time.
F.L., Eastern Art Revived by British Artist: Keith "Japanese" Colour-Prints, Illustrated London News, November 21, 1925, and Supplement, February 20, 1926
Elizabeth Keith, Eastern Windows: An Artist's Notes of Travel in Japan, Hokkaido, Korea, China, and the Philippines, 1928, p. 11-12
Richard Miles, Elizabeth Keith: The Printed Works, 1991, p. 27, no. 5
(inv. no. 10-5142)
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