Dwarf Potted Trees in Paintings, Scrolls,
Woodblock Prints, and Etchings


American, pre-WWII

Japanese Dwarf Plum Tree
Japanese Dwarf Pine Tree
Japanese Dwarf Berry Tree
The Little White Plum Blossom Tree
"Japanese Dwarf Plum Tree,"
(1928, oban )
“Japanese Dwarf PineTree,”
(1928, oban )
"Japanese Dwarf Berry Tree"
(1928, aiban )
"The Little White Plum Blossom Tree"
(n.d., shikishiban )

Lilian May Miller (1895-1943)   Born in Japan, Miller was the daughter of an American Consul General to Seoul, Korea and a New York-born woman who taught English in Japan.  She received training in Japanese painting styles at an early age under Shimada Bokusen, and later attended Vassar College in the United States.  After schooling in America returned to Japan for more painting studies.  She published many of her prints in the 20's and 30's, and later moved to Hawaii.  Her collectors and dealers included a network of key female art patrons of the time, including Empress Nagako of Japan, Lou Henry Hoover (wife of President Herbert Hoover), Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Pasadena art dealer Grace Nicholson.  Preferring to be called "Jack," Miller was unconventional in many ways.  While most other artists in her genre trained in Western art schools and later travelled to Japan, she saw Japanese painting and print-making as her first mode of artistic expression.  While most artists turned their work over to publishers, Miller carved and printed her own work as part of her devotion to Japanese-style art.  She also distributed her prints utilizing a network of primarily female friends.  And, contrary to society's norms of female behavior, Miller remained unmarried, went mountain climbing, dressed in masculine-style clothes and supported herself solely through the sale of her art, which she created while wearing kimonos.  She died in San Francisco.  1

Czech, pre-WWII

Girl with Bonsai Tree, New Year's Card
"Girl with Bonsai Tree, New Year's Card,"
(1927 for 1928, etching)

Tavik František Šimon (1877-1942)   Born in Bohemia, in the then Austrian Empire, Simon was the youngest of seven children.  He showed early a talent for drawing, to the extent that his elementary school teacher recommended to his parents to send him for art education in Prague.  Simon graduated from the academy in 1903 and received two consecutive scholarships to travel.  The first one was used for a trip to Italy, the second to Paris and London.  In 1905 he had his first one-man show in Prague, in an exhibit comprised of some 100 works: drawings, pastels, paintings and etchings.  The following year he married the muse of the rest of his life, the beautiful and intelligent Vilma Kracikova, in Prague and the newlyweds returned to Paris.  Afterwards Šimon started to work with renewed energy and added two new techniques, the mezzotint and wood-cut.  In the summer of 1914 while the Šimons were again in Prague the archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo and a war broke out that turned out to become the World War I.  The return to France became impossible.  The painter was not drafted in the Austrian army but the livelihood of an artist became rather difficult as war years dragged on.
            In August 1926 Šimon was able to fulfill his long-held dream of travelling around the world and broadening his repertoire by visiting the more distant parts of the world.  He was regularly writing long letters to his wife describing his experiences and impressions, often illustrated with pencil sketches.  From New York the tour then proceeded to Boston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, after which he continued to Hawaii and the Philippines, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon), India, Egypt, and Greece, ending with Naples and Marseille.  The Orient made a great impression on the artist and he responded by producing numerous etchings, aquatints and oil paintings, some of which were shown at a comprehensive exhibit in Prague on the occasion of Šimon's 50th birthday.  In 1928 Šimon was appointed a professor at the Academy of Arts in Prague to head the school of graphic arts.  After 1930 his work as a professor, curator and writer took too much of his energy, and it is regrettable he had too little time for his artistic work.  Arthur Novak in 1937 made a list of the graphic works of T.F. Simon and he listed a total of 626 pieces.  Then the Academy was closed in November 1939 after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.  Šimon took very hard the events of World War II and stress declined his health seriously.  He died at home by heart failure following a heart attack some months earlier.  His wife Vilma Šimonova died in 1959.  2


1   "Lilian May Miller," http://www.woodblock.com/encyclopedia/entries/017_02/miller.html ;  "lilian miller," http://www.hanga.com/western/miller ; "Lilian May Miller," http://www.askart.com/AskART/artist.aspx?artist=111308 ;  "Lilian Miller, print gallery," http://www.hanga.com/gallery.cfm?ID=29, #35, 37, 39, 51.  The first three prints were also done in a version with non-black backgrounds: gray, orange, and brown respectively.

2   "Catalogue Raisonné of the Graphic Art of the Czech Artist," http://www.tfsimon.com/Graphic-List.html ; "Biography of the Czech Artist," http://www.tfsimon.com/index1.htm

See also Henry Sugimoto, "Junk Shop Man Took Away Our Ice Box".

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