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Obata, Chiura (1885 - 1975), "Merced River Rapids, Happy Isles Yosemite - Original Painting"

arrow-left arrow right "Merced River Rapids, Happy Isles Yosemite - Original Painting" by Obata, Chiura
Catalog ID A2677
Artist Chiura Obata
Title Merced River Rapids, Happy Isles Yosemite - Original Painting
Medium Original Watercolor on Silk
Series Title Yosemite
Edition Original
Date c.1940s
Publisher The Artist
Reference No Exhibited: Oakland Museum, Chiura Obata Exhibition May 19 - July 20, 1977
Size 16 x 20 "
Condition Very fine, with fresh colors.

Notes: Signed and sealed by the artist. Presented in the original Oakland Museum Chiura Obata Exhibition frame/matte. Provenance: From a California collector and ex-student, who purchased the painting directly from the artist. Loaned to the Oakland Museum for inclusion in the, Chiura Obata Exhibition May 19 - July 20, 1977. The location is confirmed by a Obata family member; as sketches of the Merced River Rapids are in the family archives.

Happy Isles is a group of small isles located in the Merced River in Yosemite National Park, California, USA. They are located at the easternmost end of the Yosemite Valley floor where the slope of the Merced River changes from the much steeper upper main stem to the flat Valley floor. This scenic spot is the starting point for the Mist Trail, and is also the northern trailhead for the John Muir Trail that leads to popular destinations including, Vernal Falls and Half Dome. Trailhead Elevation: 4,000 feet (1,220 meters).

As noted in the book, Obata's Yosemite: 'Much of Obata's paintings have a distinctly pastoral feel. Bathed in soft light, scenes of walnut orchards in spring, or Suisun delta on a warm summer afternoon, have a profoundly calming effect on the viewer.

The color of water he used might be called "Obata blue," so frequently does it appear in his paintings. Obata looked to the Tosa School, whose artists he considered the finest colorists of Japan, for selecting and dissolving pigments. Following formulas some of which were more than a thousand years old, Obata ground his own paints from a variety of materials, including precious and semiprecious stones, flower petals, and oyster shells. For his blues, Obata ground lapis lazuli; for greens, he ground malachite, turquoise, or peacock stone. He is reputed to have used ruby dust for special reds - at a cost of seven hundred dollars for a tiny vial.

In one respect Obata never wavered; he insisted until his death on employing the best materials Japan had to offer. His sumi was of a type made in the mountains of Japan from a secret slow-burning carbonization of pine; his brushes were constructed by hand with animal furs such as rabbit, fox, sheep, badger, and bear. Even Obata's water came from the purest sources he could find, preferably mountain lakes and streams. In the 1930's he made pilgrimages to Fern Spring in Yosemite Valley to collect its crystalline water, which he used to mix with his sumi.'

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