Baldridge

Cyrus L. Baldridge

1889-1977

Turn to the East Portfolio: Peking (China Gate)

color woodblock print, pencil numbered, signed and titled on the bottom margin, No. 120 C. Leroy Baldridge Peking '25, with publisher's round seal Watanabe, 1925; together with portfolio labeled, TURN TO THE EAST, CAROLINE SINGER AND C. LE ROY BALDRIDGE, MINTON, BALCH & COMPANY..New York, hand numbered No. 120 with eight photo offset color lithographs of Baldridge paintings and sketches of Chinese subjects, ca. 1926

woodblock print 10 3/8 by 15 3/8 in., 26.5 by 39 cm
portfolio 16 by 11 in., 40.5 by 28 cm

Alternate title: P'ailou on Moat, Peking
A pailou or paifang, or archway, is a traditional Chinese gateway with one, three, or five openings, erected at the entrance to a palace, tomb, or processional way.

Cyrus Le Roy was an illustrator, author, and artist-adventurer. Born in 1889 in upstate New York, Baldridge was raised primarily on the road with his mother who left his father and became a traveling saleswoman, instilling in her son strong spirit of individualism and lifelong wanderlust. At the age of 10 he was accepted as the youngest student at Frank Holme's School of Illustration in Chicago, and he was admitted to the University of Chicago and graduated in 1911. While looking for work as an illustrator he worked in Chicago stockyards and became an excellent rider training in the Illinois National Guard Calvary and worked as a cow hand on the 6666 Ranch in Texas for a summer. During World War I worked as a war correspondent and illustrator, crossing through war zones on bicycle and horseback until he ran out of funds and returned to Chicago. The National Guard called him up in 1916 to repulse Pancho Villa at the Mexican-American border, and in 1917 he joined the French Army as a stretcher bearer. He went to Mexico and the fronts in Europe as an idealistic youth, but the horrors of war left him deeply disillusioned.

In 1920 Baldridge met the Caroline Singer (1888-1963) who shared his love of travel and adventure. Together they toured Africa, India, Asia and the Middle East and published travel memoirs written by Singer and illustrated by Baldridge that were highly regarded for their respectful portrayals of the cultures and for the beautiful illustrations. There were long periods in China and Japan in the 1920s, including a period collaborating with Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962), the preeminent publisher of shin-hanga woodblock prints. Watanabe produced six Baldridge woodblock prints, included the one accompanying this portfolio which was issued around the same time as their co-authored book, A Turn to the East, By Two Who Seek Here to Intimate the Richness of Their Adventure, published by the same imprint as the portfolio, Minton, Balch & Company, in 1926.

References:
Amy Reigle Stephens, gen. ed., The New Wave: Twentieth-century Japanese Prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, 1993, p. 217, no. 305
Helen Merritt, Point of Contact, 1993, p. 68, no. 28
Barbara J. Thompson, The International Block Print Renaissance, Then and Now: Block Prints in Wichita, Kansas, A Centennial Celebration, 2022, p. 269 (color illus. 'Turn to the East')
(inv. no. 10-5506)

price: $900


Cyrus L. Baldridge

kikumon

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