Toshio Aoki, Japanese, active United States, 1854 - 1912


c. 1890-1900

Watercolor and gouache on paper

Sheet: 22 1/2 × 14 1/4 in. (57.2 × 36.2 cm)

Frame: 33 × 24 3/4 in. (83.8 × 62.9 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the Evelyn A. and William B. Jaffe 2015 Fund



Place Made: United States, North America


19th century

Object Name


Research Area


Not on view


Early scientific writing in the United States explored the rich natural history of North America, defending the continent against claims that it was comparatively inferior to Europe. The renowned artist-naturalist John James Audubon devoted himself to cataloguing American fauna in the early 19th century, producing this illustration of black squirrels for a series of books on North American mammals.

Toshio Aoki immigrated to San Francisco in the 1880s and became known for fusing traditional Japanese aesthetics with European-style allegories. Recalling themes of abundance, flowers and vines tumble from a basket and intertwine with gold fabric swirling around the woman flying across the sky. Aoki may have consulted a naturalist illustration when painting this butterfly of the genus Papilio, an insect that begins its life as a caterpillar before transforming into this beautiful creature, suggesting ideas of regeneration and rebirth.

From the 2022 exhibition This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, curated by Jami C. Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art; Barbara J. MacAdam, former Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art; Thomas H. Price, former Curatorial Assistant; Morgan E. Freeman, former DAMLI Native American Art Fellow; and Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

Course History

ANTH 7.05, Animals and Humans, Laura Ogden, Winter 2022

GEOG 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Winter 2022

ANTH 50.05, Environmental Archaeology, Madeleine McLeester, Winter 2022

ANTH 50.05, Environmental Archaeology, Madeleine McLeester, Winter 2022

ARTH 5.01, Introduction to Contemporary Art, Mary Coffey and Chad Elias, Winter 2022

ANTH 3.01, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Summer 2022

ANTH 3.01, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Summer 2022

SPAN 65.15, Wonderstruck: Archives and the Production of Knowledge in an Unequal World, Silvia Spitta and Barbara Goebel, Summer 2022

Exhibition History

This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 12 - July 22, 2022.


Private Collection, California; Abell Auction Company, Los Angeles, California, "Weekly Auction Online," 9 December, 2021, lot 575; purchased by the Hood Museum of Art, 2021.

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