Heron and Lotuses

Aoki Toshio (Japanese; American, 1854 – 1912)
ink, color on paper
Sheet : 22 x 14 1/4 in. (55.88 x 36.2 cm)
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Gift of Risa and Chris Engle in honor of Mayia and Leah
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Born in Japan, Toshio Aoki emigrated to the United States in 1880, settling first in San Francisco and later moving to Pasadena, California. Little is known about Aoki’s early life in Japan, but he must have been trained as an artist since he quickly found work as a commercial illustrator and interior designer in the United States. Many Americans, especially on the west and east coasts, were fascinated by Japan in the late 19th century and Japanese and Japanese-style art was much in fashion. Aoki took advantage of this interest and enjoyed a successful career up to the point of his premature death in 1912. This painting of a heron standing amid a profusion of blossoming lotuses combines a traditional Japanese motif with an Art Nouveau-influenced aesthetic that is typical of Aoki’s mature work.

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