Obata: Watercolor Painting of a Camellia Branch
Artist: Chiura Obata (1885-1975)
Title: Painting of a Red Camellia Branch
Date: January, 1946
Beautiful watercolor of a red camellia branch, featuring one open blossom and two red buds. This may be a cutting for a flower arrangement that the artist’s wife Haruko might use to create an ikebana arrangement, as she practiced and taught this art and was a highly regarded ikebana artist in her own right. This work has a light layer of mica that covers the entire painting. From the date we can see how renewal and hope never left Chiura Obata, even so soon after the dark time of WWII and his family’s internment. Obata was released from the Topaz internment camp in April of 1943, and began teaching at Berkeley again in 1945. This work is dated January 1946, and Obata had only recently returned to his former life. Perhaps he saw the camellia as a symbol of strength and resilience, as it brings bright color to a desolate winter landscape. Obata taught at Berkeley between 1932 and 1954, and made many study paintings as demonstration to his students. The University of California, Berkeley preserved many of his paintings while Obata and his family were interned in Utah during WWII. Recent exhibitions of Obata’s works include a large traveling retrospective which concluded at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2020. There is currently an exhibition of Obata’s rarely seen paintings at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Provenance: Estate of Chiura Obata. Includes a Certificate of Authenticity.
Literature: “Chiura Obata: An American Modern” (UCal Press, 2018) pages 58-63, pl. 24-29.
Dimensions: 40.2 x 28 cm
Sealed: Artist's seal
Signature: Chiura Obata