Paul Jacoulet Biography

Paul Jacoulet




Paul Jacoulet (French/Japanese: 1902 – 1960)

   Printmaker Paul Jacoulet was born in Paris, sometime between 1896 and 1902 (accounts vary). At age four he moved with his family to Japan, where his father worked as a teacher at the Tokyo University. Born in poor health from which he never fully recovered, Jacoulet developed and refined his skills in drawing, music and languages, including Japanese, French and English. In 1920 Jacoulet became an interpreter for the French Embassy in Tokyo; meanwhile, he continued his studies in painting.

   In 1929 Jacoulet created his first prints, after undertaking his first trip to the South Sea and photographing landscapes and figures.  Further travels inspired more prints, with a strong focus on grouped and solo portraits of natives, retaining the delicate realism still looked for in pre-war times.  It wasn’t until after World War II that Jacoulet’s prints began to reflect a more fantastic and surreal quality. 

   1934 saw the creation of his first woodblock print.  He experimented with techniques involving lacquers, embossing, mica and metal pigments, and with powdered semi-precious stones.  Today, the known number of print designs is around 166.

    He published most of his prints himself, determining the amount of prints he pulled with how many subscriptions he received for his art—therefore, the amount of pulled prints per image is usually small.  After painstaking exactitude and training of carvers and printers, Jacoulet would review the pulled prints and discard any that lacked absolute excellence.  However, in an unusual turn from tradition, Jacoulet credited the carvers and printers he worked with by including their names in the margins of the prints. 

   During his last years, his health continued to decline. Jacoulet continued to produce woodblock prints until his death from diabetes in 1960.