Helen Hyde Biography

Helen Hyde




Helen Hyde, printmaker, painter, and illustrator, was born in Lima, New York on 6 April 1868, but spent a cultured childhood in Oakland, California. At the age of twelve, Hyde began art instruction under Ferdinand Richardt but it ended abruptly two years later when her father died and her family relocated inß  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 with Kenyon Cox 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, Raphael Collin and Albert Sterner in Paris, and months in Holland and England.

In Paris, Hyde met Félix Régamey who introduced her to the “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, she 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. Hyde 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.

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.

The work of Helen Hyde is represented in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta; the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Smith Museum of Art, the University of Chicago, Illinois; the University of Oregon Museum of Art, Eugene; the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, New York; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; and the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Helen Hyde died on 13 May 1919 in Pasadena, California.