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Archive: Obata Chiura (小圃千浦)

Chiura (千浦)
Artist Seal: Chiura (千浦)
N/A (painting)
Unknown (perhaps c. 1930s-1942)
(H x W)
Painting with light colors
49.3 x 37.0 cm
N/A (painting)
Very good color and condition (Unbacked; two short paper creases near lower left edge and one-third way up left edge, slightly frayed upper right corner)
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: OBT01 


Obata Chiura (小圃千浦, November 18, 1885 - October 6, 1975) was born Obata Zoroku in Okayama, Japan and grew up in Sendai. He emigrated to California in 1903, where he pursued and taught painting and printmaking, leaving behind a highly distinctive and important body of work. His biography is summarized at our Obata Biography page.


This view of a waterfall was sketched en plein air, probably in the Sierras. Although many of Obata's landscapes contain a strong measure of topographical realism, he was more interested in capturing kiin seidô ("living moment": 気韻生動), i.e., the essential nature of a scene. This quality of observation and perceptiveness was transmitted through an artist's intuitive connection with the spirit of the subject. Kiin seidô is evident in Obata's painting through the interplay of wet and dry brush strokes, and simplified forms and empty space — enhanced with pale colors. We have no difficulty recognizing the view as a waterfall, high in the mountains, above the trees, but we can also appreciate the energy of Obata's brushwork as an expression of living natural beauty.


  • Janice Driesbach and Susan Landauer: Obata's Yosemite: The Art and Letters of Chiura Obata from His Trip to the High Sierra in 1927.Yosemite Association, 1993, pp. 36, 54, and 56.
  • ShiPu Wang: Chiura Obata: An American Modern. Art, Design & Architecture Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2018.