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Bumpei Usui was born in Nagano, Japan on February 25, 1898 and died in Greenwich Village, NY on March 1994 at age 96.
The following information is from Virginia Howard, whose great aunt, Frances Elizabeth Pratt, was married to Bumpei Usui. “Bumpei Usui told a story of entering the United States by literally jumping off a ship and swimming to shore, which no one ever had any reason to believe wasn’t true. In the 1940s he owned and operated a frame shop on 13th Street just east of Fifth Avenue.”
Bumpei Usui, like his more famous close friend Yasuo Kuniyoshi, was a Japanese-American framer and artist active during the first half of the 20th century. Usui started making frames and furniture when he arrived in New York City from Japan, opening a frame shop at 5 East 14th. street that became popular with Kuniyoshi and other contemporary artists.
During WWII, Usui was saved from incarceration by his many friends who spoke up for him in New York. Had he been living in California at that time, I doubt if his friends could have kept him out of concentration camp. For the duration of the war, his collection of Japanese swords was stored at the homes of his many friends and was returned to him when the war was over.
Bumpei Usui lived in lower Manhattan, with a large studio workshop in Greenwich Village. Besides his art and frame making, he was an expert connoisseur, collector and teacher of Japanese swords and ceramics. He had accumulated a worldclass collection of very important Japanese swords. His friend and mentor was Monroe Asai who also had a fine collection of swords and art. Usui’s wife, Frances Elizabeth Pratt, also an artist, was a renowned collector of pre-Columbian art. Both are buried in the Pratt family lot in Pennsylvania.
Bumpei Usui’s Relationship with Yasuo Kuniyoshi... The two of them met in New York City. They were both interested in art, and attended the same art school. After art school Kuniyoshi...