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Helen Wells Seymour, Japan and China Artist

Posted: July 22nd, 2022 | No Comments »

I’m afraid i don’t know a great deal about Helen Wells Seymour who moved between Washington DC and Japan/China in the 1920s and 1930s as an artist. She would oftren head to Asia for two years at a time. I also do not have any of her China art, though I believe she did paint Peking and environs in the 1930s – so if anyone has any of her paintings I’d love to see them.

Japanese wall paintingsIt appears Wells Seymour was born in in 1878 in Baltimore and lived mostly in neighbouring DC. She may have attended the Friends School in DC for art classes and possibly also Columbia University and/or the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

In the early 1900s she toured Europe (certainly visiting France, Germany, Italy and England) as well as Egypt. By the 1920s she was settled in Asia and survived the 1923 Japanese earthquake. As well as painting in both China and Japan she collected Japanese wall paintings and a wide range of textiles from East Asia, South Asia, and South East Asian batiks (much of the collection is, I think, at the Art Institute of Omaha). In Japan she was also a part-time lecturer at the Doshisha Women’s College, Kyoto. She was a member of the Society of Women Geographers, of the Japan Society, the Society for Japanese Studies, and the Washington Club.

In Peking she did meet and intereact with other artists – noting Bertha Lum in 1924.

I believe she returned to America in 1935 from China and Japan to settle in Connectticut, where she died in 1937. She wrote some memoirs of Japan in the 1920s in A Japanese Diary. Below are two of her Japanese paintings…

Garden View with Bridge and Japanese Temple
Japanese Scene



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