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Buyers pursue Paul Jacoulet prints at auction

The art of ukiyo-e (Asian woodblock prints) is generating fascination within the auction market. The positive response to the unique work of one master of this genre, Paul Jacoulet, during a recent auction is reflective.

By Karen Knapstein

Paul Jacoulet was born in Paris, but he and his family moved to Tokyo, Japan when Paul was a young boy. He embraced Japanese cultural skills and traditions, and became one of the few non-Asian masters of the art of ukiyo-e (woodblock prints and paintings depicting subjects from everyday life).

Micronesia Influence Apparent in Paul Jacoulet Prints

Korean Baby in Ceremonial Costume woodblock print

Bebe Coreen en Costume de Ceremonie. Seoul. (Korean Baby in Ceremonial Costume), 18.75 by 14.187 inches; signed in pencil lower right above the Fan seal. Seals of the carver, Kentaro Maeda, and printer, Fusakichi Ogawa, lower right margin. Published 12 September 1934; numbered 123/350 on reverse, $2,280. (All photos courtesy of Eldred's)

As a young man, Jacoulet began visiting Micronesia. Paul Gauguin’s influence can be seen in many of Jacoulet’s prints of the indigenous peoples of the region.

Jacoulet self-published many of his prints and worked with the most skilled woodblock carvers and printers of the day. He stands apart among artists of the genre not only for his exacting skill and style, but also because he gave credit to his carvers and printers, whose names are often stamped on the margin of the print.

According to Susan M. Craig-Schofield, cataloguer for auction house Eldred’s, “Paul Jacoulet was strictly a portraitist and he used only enough background to define the place and enhance the character of his subject. His subjects were real personalities who sat for him. He did not idealize, but attempted to record his impression of character. He excelled in expressing the character through the eyes and hands of his subject.”

The woodblock prints shown here were sold through Eldred’s Aug. 23, 2017 sale, titled “The Prints of Paul Jacoulet.” All values are hammer prices, exclusive of buyer’s premiums. For more information, visit

More Examples of Jacoulet's Work

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