Elizabeth Keith

Born in the Scottish town of Aberdeenshire, Elizabeth Keith traveled to Japan in 1915, the beginning of a
nine-year stay in a number of Asian countries. She found herself deeply attracted to Asia’s beauty and
culture. Keith visited Korea several times starting in 1919 and worked on watercolor paintings of the Korean
culture and daily lives. It was also in 1919 when she held the first-ever exhibition of paintings on Korea in
Tokyo and met Watanabe Shozaburo, who led the shin-hanga (New Prints) movement. This encounter led
her to start working on woodblock prints. She had a prolific career as a woodblock print artist, mainly
working at Watanabeʼs studio. In her later years, she assumed control of the whole process of etching and
woodblock prints.

In 1921, as the first Western-born artist to capture Asian subjects, Keith held an exhibition in Seoul,
followed by another in 1934. From the 1920s, she also often held exhibitions in the United States and Europe.
Her artworks are in the collections of several top-tier museums and galleries worldwide. Korea happens to
be a subject that is most frequently visited in her artworks, and it was those pieces that earned her acclaim.
In this sense, it is only fair to say that Keith and Korea have a special relationship. She was also an author of
books including Old Korea (1946), Eastern Windows (1928), and Grin and Bear It (1917).