Bertha Boynton Lum (1869 – 1954) was an American artist known for helping to make the Japanese and Chinese woodblock print known outside of Asia.
Bertha Boynton Bull was born May 1869 in Tipton, Iowa. Her father, Joseph W. Bull (1841–1923), a lawyer and her mother Harriet Ann Boynton (1842–1925) were both amateur artists.
In 1890 she lived in Duluth and listed her occupation as artist. She enrolled in the design department of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1895. A few years later she studied stained glass with Anne Weston and illustration with Frank Holme. From November 1901 to March 1902, she studied figure drawing at the Art Institute of Chicago and was influenced by the Japanese techniques of Arthur Wesley Dow in his book.
She married Burt F. Lum, a corporate lawyer from Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1903. They honeymooned in Japan, where she purchased woodcutting tools and began using them upon her return to Minneapolis. On January 23, 1907 she went to Japan for a 14-week stay to learn how to make wood block prints. She also traveled there in 1911, 1915 to 1916 and 1919.
She moved to Peking, China in 1922, but returned to the United States in 1924. She lived in California until 1927 when she stayed in China. The following year she divorced Burt Lum and in 1933 returned to Peking. Her daughter Bettina married the diplomat Sir Colin Tradescant Crowe, and became an author. In 1953 she moved to Genoa, Italy from China to live with another daughter, Catherine. She died in Genoa, Italy on February 1954.
In 1912 she exhibited her woodcut prints in Tokyo at the Tenth Annual Art Exhibition. In 1915 she was awarded a silver medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition for her color woodcuts. Her work has also received honors in Rome, Paris and Portugal. She made her last known print in 1935. She did continue to show her work in the United States and China until 1950.
She was a member of the Asiatic Society of Japan, California Society of Etchers (now California Society of Printmakers) and Print Makers Society of California. She published two books, Gods,Goblins and Ghosts in 1922 and Gangplanks to the East in 1936.
Other western women who lived in Japan and made woodprints
- Gravalos, Mary Evans O'Keefe & Carol Pulin. Bertha Lum American Printmakers series (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991) p. 102.
- Gravalos, Mary Evans O'Keefe & Carol Pulin. Bertha Lum, American printmakers (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991)
- The Studio Magazine, January 15, 1908.
- The Far Eastern Times, November 10, 1923.
- Los Angeles Times, November 28, 1926.
- The Leader, November 27, 1927.
- Saturday Night, May 25, 1929.
- Los Angeles Times, July 14, 1929.
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