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The work of Paul Jacoulet (1896-1960): Views of an Imagined and Colorful Asia

Updated: Apr 3

Born in Paris in 1896, Paul Jacoulet left France for Japan to join his father, Paul Frederic Jacoulet, a French professor in Tokyo. Educated in a Japanese school, he quickly learned the language, developed a passion for Japanese culture, and adopted the unique lifestyle of the country. After his father's death in 1921, Paul Jacoulet decided to settle permanently in Japan and continued his drawing apprenticeship, a passion he had cultivated since the age of 10. He regularly traveled to Korea to visit his mother, who had remarried a Korean doctor.

View of Paul Jacoulet in his studio

Following a trip to the Pacific Islands in the 1930s, Jacoulet revealed himself as an "artist-traveler." He seized every opportunity during his travels to sketch what he discovered, especially the faces of people he encountered along the way. In Tokyo in 1933, he founded the Jacoulet Institute of Prints (Jacoulet Hanga Kenkyu-jo), where he learned the technique of paper engraving following the Ukiyo-e movement from several print masters, mainly those associated with the Shin-Hanga movement such as Ikeda Terukada. He began to publish, exhibit, and sell some of his prints to a foreign clientele.

The beginning of World War II and the bombings on the Japanese capital forced him to reduce his artistic activity. It resumed thanks to American commander Charles T. McDowell, an admirer and collector of Jacoulet's works, who recruited him as a professor at the Tokyo Army College in 1946. Subsequently, several exhibitions were organized on American bases in Japan, contributing to the spread of his work across the Atlantic. After making several trips around the world, Jacoulet died from complications of diabetes in Tokyo in 1960.

Deeply attached to his encounters, especially those made during his travels, the artist made the 'human' the central subject of his works. These are magnified by a style unique to Jacoulet's Franco-Japanese culture - combining the technique and format of Japanese prints with European stylistic elements - the accuracy of details, and the use of a vibrant color palette. The 166 works that make up the artist's corpus are so many glorified memories, reflecting the melancholic gaze he cast upon civilizations with ancient customs.

Gauchet Art Asiatique is proud to present a rich collection of Paul Jacoulet's works in the Arts of Japan auction on December 10, 2022, in collaboration with the Millon auction house.

Explore our auction results for the artist:

To find out more about Jacoulet's work, read the article by Barnebys (the world's largest search engine for art, design and collectables) entitled

Do you own works by this artist? Feel free to use our expertise services for valuation.

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