Honorable Mr. Cat by Helen Hyde - 1903 - 17.6 × 18.3 cm Art Institute of Chicago Honorable Mr. Cat by Helen Hyde - 1903 - 17.6 × 18.3 cm Art Institute of Chicago

Honorable Mr. Cat

Color woodcut on cream Japanese paper • 17.6 × 18.3 cm
  • Helen Hyde - April 6, 1868 - May 13, 1919 Helen Hyde 1903

Helen Hyde was the first American female artist to learn Japanese printing techniques directly in Japan. She was raised in San Francisco, where she attended the San Francisco School of Design, before moving on to the Art Students League in New York City, and eventually studying in Europe. While in Paris between 1891 and 1894, Hyde was swept up in the European fascination with Japanese prints. A pivotal moment came in 1893 when she saw an exhibition of Mary Cassatt's color etchings. Cassatt, an American artist living in Paris, created prints influenced by Japanese woodblock prints, often featuring mother and child scenes, which likely influenced Hyde to explore similar themes in her work.

Hyde first went to Japan in 1899, returned briefly, and then spent most of her time in Tokyo until 1914. There, she delved into the intricate process of color woodblock printing, a collaborative effort traditionally involving multiple artisans. Based on an artist's sketch or watercolor, several woodblocks would be carved, each for a different color, and then used to press the design onto paper. Although Hyde learned the carving techniques herself, she chose to employ Japanese craftsmen for the detailed work of carving and printing, based on her designs. She maintained a close working relationship with these artisans, ensuring her artistic vision was realized in the final prints. 

I love today's print ... and its title!  :)

P.S. Did you know Gustav Klimt was a cat lover? Here are 6 famous artists and their cats! For more cat cuteness, see the articles below.