Kirsten's Corner

Hand Painted Jacoulet WoodBlock Print from Japan, 1930


This Paul Jacoulet hand-painted woodblock print is one of few made by this extraordinary international artist. He was so skilled at woodblock printing that although he was a foreigner from the west he became recognized in Japan. Most of his work was executed between 1939 and 1960. The majority of his drawings and prints depict indigenous people in their traditional dress. He would either make a portrait, or a full body rendering of a person within a very specific background. Details from the setting are what make Jacoulet's work so unique. Swirling patterns turn into clouds, flowers from the landscape merge with decorative robes. He would also sometimes include gold or pearl dust, or gold leaf as seen in the black background of this print. The print is signed by the artist in western writing and has also a traditional Japanese stamp. This print is called "Le Dieu Vivant" or The Living God, and was made in Nagano, Japan, as indicated on the print. The figure represented in the image is a regal man, adorned with beautiful fabric that is decorated with magnificent birds. He sits on a bright red chair that complements his dress, and the draping fabric that seems to hover in the background.

Jacoulet's life is quite interesting; he was born in Paris in 1896 and lived in Japan for most of his life. During World War II, he moved the countryside and survived by growing his own vegetables and raising chickens. He was an expert in Kabuki, proficient on traditional Japanese musical instruments, and could speak several languages. His preferred clothing was a kimono and in the end of his life his style was quite extravagant. While his designs of the pre-war period reflect a certain realism, the post-war woodblock prints show scenes that are a product of fantasy. Much like Gaugin, he desired to travel to the exotic islands for inspiration and went to Micronesia. Today this work is of interest to anthropologists. He was a stand out artist, and although he was very prolific as an artist, his prints were not reproduced in high numbers so today he is quite desirable for art collectors.
The print measures 16-1/2 by 13-1/2 inches wide. The print is in great shape especially for its age, but there is a minimal one inch crease on the right edge of the print and there is slight visible foxing on the right border (see last image here). It is professionally and archivally framed with a matte and a nice black frame, under glass. When framed the piece is 25 inches tall by 21 inches wide. The piece is ready to hang and enjoy.

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