Helen Hyde Biography

Helen Hyde




Helen Hyde (1868-1919), printmaker and illustrator, was born in Lima, New York on April 6 1868, but spent a cultured childhood in Oakland, California, her father's home, when she was two. At twelve she began art instruction under Ferdinand Richardt but it ended abruptly two years later when her father died and her family resettled in San Francisco. Helen and her mother moved to Philadelphia and, after her graduation from Wellesley School, she returned to San Francisco and studied at the School of Design. Hyde studied briefly at the Art Students League in New York between 1888 and 1889. The following year she departed on a four year sojourn in Europe, which included studying with Franz Skarbina in Berlin, Rafael Collins and Albert Sterner in Paris, and months in Holland and England.

In Paris, Hyde met Félix Régamey who introduced her to "loveliness of things Japanese" and this meeting was to have a profound effect on her life and work. Returning to San Francisco, Hyde sought out subjects in Chinatown and produced her first series of color etchings. In 1899, Hyde voyaged to Japan where she became an ardent student of the Japanese language and a student of classical brush painting with an Austrian artist working in Tokyo, and it was from him that she learned the skills of carving wood blocks. She eventually accepted the Japanese system of divided labor and employed Japanese carvers and printers (Shohiro Murate carved her woodcuts for eleven years).

Japan was Hyde's home until 1914 when she returned to the United States due to ill health. Hyde exhibited both nationally and internationally and her work won honors in Japan. She was awarded the gold medal at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exhibition in Seattle in 1909 and the bronze medal for woodcut at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Hyde was a member of the Chicago Society of Etchers, the Printmakers Society of California, the Chicago Society of Artists and a life member of the Société de la Grauvre en Couleur.

Helen Hyde died on May 13, 1919 in Pasadena, California, where she had undergone another surgery for her cancer.