Taj-Mahal. Agra. 1916.
Charles W. Bartlett
British, 1860 - 1940
Color woodblock print
Image: 10 1/2 x 15 1/8 in. (26.7 x 38.4 cm) Sheet: 11 1/8 x 16 in. (28.3 x 40.6 cm)
Gift of Anna Rice Cooke, 1927 (5390)
Bartlett arrived in Japan in 1915, where he eventually met the young publisher Watanabe Shözaburö, one of the most important innovators in the revival of traditional Japanese woodblock printing techniques that would become known as shin hanga, or "new woodblock prints." In an effort to revitalize the tradition, Watanabe had been experimenting with designs by foreigners, and he immediately saw the potential to transform Bartlett's watercolors into woodblock prints. Over the course of a decade, Bartlett would prove to be Watanabe's most successful print designer, and his work influenced younger Japanese designers such as Yoshida Hiroshi, who would become one of the leaders in the next generation of the shin hanga movement. This print was issued in the first series of prints Bartlett designed for Watanabe, which were all based on his sketches of India. The early decades of the 20th century experienced a growing Japanese interest in the rest of Asia, as Japan struggled with issues of colonialism and established its identity as an international political force. One of the reasons for the success of Bartlett's prints was the Japanese fascination with other parts of Asia, which seemed foreign and exotic, but with which Japan also increasingly identified itself in opposition to European and American colonial influence. (2009)