Katharine Jowett

British

Katharine Jowett was an English artist best known for her luminous color block prints of Chinese landscapes around the Peking/Beijing area. Born in Devon around 1890 into a religious family, her father was Reverend Timothy Wheatley, minister at the Mint Methodist Church in Exeter. Following a Methodist minister to China, she fell in love with the country and remained there for most of her life.

Most of Katharine Jowett's prints depict temples and other famous landmarks in and around the Peking area. She carved and printed her own designs, using linoleum blocks and oil-based inks. Her prints are rather small and have a dark thick border around the edges, reminiscent of Arts and Crafts woodcuts. Unlike Japanese shin hanga artists, Jowett did not use a key block to outline her designs. Instead, she layered the colors one on top of another like a painting. This gives her work a hazy impressionistic feel, distinctly different from the precisely defined areas of color in traditional Japanese prints and the works of many of her contemporaries, such as Bertha Lum and Helen Hyde.

Jowett is thought to have produced around 20 different prints, only some of which were in numbered editions. Her pictures, particularly her prints, were very popular in China in the twenties and thirties and not just with the Western community: even Chairman Mao had a set of her prints in his study. Two of Jowett's linoleum cuts were used to illustrate cultural essays that appeared in "The Christian Science Monitor" in 1934-35.
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