Lilian May Miller (1895-1943)
“By the Great River Han, Korea (First State)”
Woodblock print, no. 37
10 -3/4 x 7 -3/4 ”
ex. Rick Petteford Antiques
ex. Castle Fine Arts, purchased directly from the Miller family
A woman who lived between two cultures, she was a native of Japan, but her parents were Americans. She was the daughter of Ransford Miller, an American embassy official in Japan and of Lily Murray, a New York born woman who taught English in Japan.
Lily was educated in Japanese methods of painting and exhibited at the Imperial Salon at the Ueno Academy of Fine Arts. She was awarded with the art name of “Gyokka,” meaning Jeweled Flower. In 1913, her father was returned to Washington D.C., and she went to Vassar College, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Then her father was named the American Consul General to Seoul, Korea, and she moved there briefly with her family but returned to Washington to take a political job. Then she returned to Japan and studied art with Shimada Bokusen, a progressive artist, and received numerous awards.
She turned to woodblock printing, hoping to make a living with this, which she did, particularly making sales among diplomatic corps people. Many of her finished prints as well as paintings were destroyed in the Great Kanto earthquake on September 1, 1923. However, she continued to work and did more landscape prints.
As an artist she did oil painting, watercolor, book illustrations, photography, and prints. Her collectors include some of Japan’s most prominent people including Empress Nagako. In America, one of her closest friends and the person who provided her a home in this country was Grace Nicholson, Pasadena art dealer.
Noted for her lack of conventionality, Miller preferred to be called “Jack.” She never married, loved mountain climbing and dressed in masculine style clothes. She supported herself solely through the sale of her art. A bitter point in her life was the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, and she worked in the war effort against the Japanese. She died at age forty seven of abdominal cancer in California, and her prints were donated to Scripps College.