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Cyrus Leroy Baldridge [1889-1977]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

BALDRIDGE, Cyrus Leroy (1889-1977)

“Peking ’25”

color woodcut / 9 7/8 inches by 14 5/16 inches (image)

1925

This ukiyo-e or floating world woodcut is typical of Japan, while the subject is Chinese. It is also representative of Japanese influence in Western art at the turn of the 20th century, especially on art from Britain and the United States.

One of several woodcut prints from the 1920s by Cyrus Baldridge, Midwestern artist and illustrator. According to an on-line source:

Cyrus Leroy Baldridge (1889–1977) was a noted illustrator, painter, printmaker, and writer. At the age of 10, he became the youngest student at Frank Holme’s Chicago School of Illustration.  In 1907, he was accepted at the University of Chicago where he continued his art education and graduated in 1911. Following graduation Baldridge worked as an illustrator, later becoming a war correspondent on the battlefront during WWI. After the war, he settled in upstate New York and continued to work as a writer and illustrator while traveling the world with his wife Caroline Singer who was also a writer. The couple traveled from Africa to India, and to Japan in the 1920s. Japanese art had a profound influence on his Baldridge’s work—during his time in Japan, he met the famed Shin Hanga print publisher Watanabe Shozaburo in Tokyo. He produced a number of woodblock prints for Watanabe during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1952, he and his wife retired to Santa Fe, where he found inspiration hiking the mountains of New Mexico and painting the landscape in oil and watercolor.

Quite aside from its qualities as an example of period, style, and a challenging print technique, “Peking” has close personal ties with the Tennant family: twins Ella Rose and Phyllis Tabor were great-granddaughters of Agincourt founder Horace Tennant. Though their story is told elsewhere in greater detail, Ella Rose became a pilot who flew in China during the Revolution and acquired this print some time before her disappearance in the 1930s. The print has been given in her memory.


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