Bertha Boynton Lum Biography

An etcher, painter, and woodblock printmaker, Lum was born in Tipton, Iowa in 1879.  Lum entered the design department at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1895.  From 1896 to 1901 she studied under Frank Holme and stained glass artist Anna Weston before returning to the Art Institute to study figure drawing.

Lum first traveled to Japan on her honeymoon in 1903.  She sought out ukiyo-e prints and printmakers, and briefly studied printmaking techniques.  She purchased carving tools and brushes before departing, and upon her return to America began studying from Arthur Wesley Dow’s book and creating small woodblock prints.

When she returned to Japan in 1907, Lum planned a much longer trip.  She studied under the block carver Bonkotsu Igami for three months, and spent several months studying with the printer Kumakichi Nishimura.  On a third trip to Japan in 1911, Lum rented a house and employed a block carver and printer to assist in the creation of her works.  Lum visited Japan a few more times, and traveled to China, Java, Singapore, and the Suez before her death in Genoa, Italy in 1954.

Lum was a member of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts, the California Print Makers Society, the Asiatic Society of Japan, and the California Society of Etchers.  Her works were exhibited at the Pan-Pacific International Exposition (1915, silver medal), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Tokyo International Exhibition of 1912, at which she was the only female exhibitor.  Currently her works are held by the Library of Congress, the Aachenbach Foundation, and other museums throughout the US, Europe and Japan.