Framing Chiura Obata

With our current exhibit of watercolors by Robert Tetlow and our launch this week of the expansive catalog page, “Mitered Frames—Special Corners,” I’ve been posting all week examples of that medium framed in the sorts of frames featured on the new page. Here’s one last such example, a marvelous figurative work, dated 1939 and measuring 15″ x 20″, by one of Berkeley’s notable citizens. Like Robert Tetlow, this painter, Chiura Obata (1885-1975) taught at UC Berkeley—although his career was interrupted by the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War.

Hasui frame corner detail on Chiura Obata painting

The frame, which we call the Hasui, is in a 3/4″ profile in walnut with a black wash, and has a black slip. The rounded corners have proud splines (detail at right). The profile has a round-over on both the inside and outside edges. So the soft shape of the whole form of the frame harmonizes with the round forms of the figure.

I like the proportions of the frame, slip and matting. The mat is narrower than I normally use, but felt right given all the negative space the painter left around the subject.

I’m pleased to see that next weekend the Crocker Museum in Sacramento is opening an exhibition, “Chiura Obata: An American Modern,” to run from June 23 to September 29, 2019.

Another Obata we framed several years ago, this one in a Yoshida frame, is shown below. And finally, I had to include another wonderful figurative piece from the 1930’s, found on the Crocker Museum’s blog, of students on the UC campus.


Chiura Obata, Untitled (UC Berkeley Students), ca. 1930s. Ink on paper, 15 1/2 x 20 3/4 in. Private Collection.

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