The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai in 1830
🇯🇵Without Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro and other Japanese artists, Impressionism might never have happened…
For centuries, Japan was a super closed country (Sakoku=”locked country”) but after Japanese ports reopened to trade with the West in 1853, a tidal wave of foreign imports flooded European shores. Much of the Japanese art was of the ukiyo-e.
Ukiyo-e with it’s lack of perspective, clean lines and flat areas of colour influenced many Western artists. Impressionism, ArtNouveau and Modernism all drew inspiration from traditional Japanese art. The influence that this exposure had upon the West came to be known as Japonism. These examples below show how passionate Impressionists were about Japan 🎎🎌♥️ Monet
Monet was at the forefront of Japanese influence as ukiyo-e arrived through the port of Le Havre, where he saw the Japanese prints used as wrapping paper😱
Monet had acquired 250 Japanese prints, including 23 by Hokusai.
He modelled parts of his garden in Giverny after Japanese elements, such as the bridge over the lily pond. By detailing just on a few select points such as the bridge or the lilies, he was influenced by traditional Japanese visual methods found in ukiyo-e prints.
Pissarro wrote in 1893
“Hiroshige is a wonderful impressionist”, Camille Pissarro wrote to his son. “Me, Monet and Rodin are enthousiastic about them.” Van Gogh wrote to Theo in 1888
“About this staying on in the South, even if it is more expensive, consider: we like Japanese painting, we have felt its influence, all the impressionists have that in common; then why not go to Japan, that is to say to the equivalent of Japan, the South?“⛩
His Painting Blossoming Almond Tree has clear Japanese influences and may have been inspired by one of the more than 400 wood block prints in the collection of Vincent and Theo.