Obata: Watercolor Painting; Studies of an Oak Tree and Oak Leaves
Artist: Chiura Obata (1885-1975)
Title: Watercolor Studies of an Oak Tree, Oak Leaves and Surrounding Berkeley Campus
Date: Ca. 1930s
Watercolor study of an oak tree, its components and its surroundings. At center we see the gnarled trunk and a single heavy branch. At top we see various studies; a single leaf, a cluster of leaves on the stem, and a second cluster in lighter colors. To the right is a copse of foliage, with what might be an oak tree in the center. The ground has been beautifully rendered in a blue/grey/green wash. The tiled roof of a building is glimpsed, almost certainly a view from the UC Berkeley campus. We can easily imagine the genesis of this work; Obata has taken his class to paint in nature, out-of-doors, and is showing them how to really look at a single tree and its components and how to set it in nature. He is demonstrating various watercolor techniques, probably making it look effortless to his amazed and enraptured students.
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. A recent exhibition of Obata’s work was held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which would have closed in May of 2020. His works are included in the collection of the Whitney Museum of Art, in addition to the collections of numerous West Coast museums. Provenance: Estate of Chiura Obata. Includes a Certificate of Authenticity.Condition: Very good condition overall, with pin holes near edges and a few minor stains. One nibble, lower left. On the soft, heavy Japanese paper that Obata ordered by mail from Japan.
Dimensions: 39.5 x 52.8 cm
Provenance: Estate of Chiura Obata. Includes a Certificate of Authenticity from the Estate.