Oxford Art OnlineGrove Art OnlineJaponismePhylis Floyd.Bibliography updated 15 July 2008Article contents • Japonisme. o 1. Origins and diffusion. o 2. Painting and graphic arts. o 3. Decorative arts. o 4. Conclusion. o Bibliographyarticle url: http://0-www.oxfordartonline.com.library.sl.nsw.gov.au/subscriber/article/grove/art/T044421Japonisme.French term used to describe a range of European borrowings from Japanese art. It was coined in1872 by the French critic, collector and printmaker Philippe Burty ‘to designate a new field ofstudy—artistic, historic and ethnographic’, encompassing decorative objects with Japanese designs(similar to 18th-century Chinoiserie), paintings of scenes set in Japan, and Western paintings, printsand decorative arts influenced by Japanese aesthetics. Scholars in the 20th century havedistinguished japonaiserie, the depiction of Japanese subjects or objects in a Western style, fromJaponisme, the more profound influence of Japanese aesthetics on Western art.1. Origins and diffusion.There has been wide debate over who was the first artist in the West to discover Japanese art andover the date of this discovery. According to Bénédite, Félix Bracquemond first came under theinfluence of Japanese art after seeing the first volume of Katsushika Hokusai’s Hokusai manga(‘Hokusai’s ten thousand sketches’, 1814) at the printshop of Auguste Delâtre in Paris in 1856.Adams argued that the American artist John La Farge was first: he began acquiring Japanese art in1856 and had made decorative paintings reflecting its influence by 1859. Other authors concludethat since Japan began actively to export its wares only about 1859, Western artists could not haveknown Japanese art until the early 1860s.Japanese works, however, were available in Europe before 1854, the year in which the AmericanCommodore Matthew Calbraith Perry (1794–1858) opened Japan to trade with the West with thesigning of the Kanagawa Treaty. Dutch merchants, in particular, in Japan were permitted limitedtrade through the island of Dejima and collected paintings, illustrated books, prints and objets d’art,which joined such public collections in Europe as the Etnografiska Museet, Stockholm, theBibliothèque Nationale, Paris, the British Museum, London, and the Rijksmuseum voorVolkenkunde, Leiden.
Following Japan’s opening to trade, access to Japanese wares as well as European public interestincreased. Various artefacts were sold at public auctions and in Parisian curiosity shops, such asL’Empire Chinoise and Mme Desoye’s store on the Rue de Rivoli, also known as la Porte Chinoise.In London, Farmer & Roger’s Oriental Warehouse (later known as Liberty & Co.) opened in 1862.These shops sold both Chinese and Japanese art and were gathering-spots for artists, critics andcollectors who found a new fashion in oriental art. In Britain James Abbott McNeill Whistler, D. G.Rossetti, W. M. Rossetti, John Everett Millais, Edward Burne-Jones, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,Charles Keene, E. W. Godwin, William Morris, William Burges, Rutherford Alcock (1809–97),John Leighton (1822–1912), R. Norman Shaw and Christopher Dresser purchased Japanese objectsat Farmer & Roger’s in the early 1860s or otherwise recorded their interest in the art and culture ofJapan. In France in the 1860s the writers Charles Baudelaire, Edmond and Jules de Goncourt,Théophile Gautier, Emile Zola and Jules Husson Champfleury and the artists Jean-François Millet,Théodore Rousseau, James Tissot, Alfred (Emile-Léopold) Stevens, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degasand Claude Monet began collecting Japanese art. About 1866 Burty, Zacharie Astruc, Henri Fantin-Latour, Jules Jacquemart, Alphonse Hirsch (1843–84), M. L. Solon and Bracquemond formed thesecret Société du Jing-lar, a club devoted to the study and promotion of Japanese culture.Major exhibitions also fuelled European enthusiasm for the decorative and pictorial arts of Japan:the International Exhibition in London (1862), the Musée Oriental (founded 1865) at the UnionCentrale des Beaux-Arts (later the Musée des Arts Décoratifs) and the Exposition Universelle inParis in 1867 were the most important early exhibitions. In the 1860s such institutions as the SouthKensington Museum (later the Victoria & Albert Museum) and the British Museum in London, andthe Bibliothèque Nationale and Union Centrale des Beaux-Arts in Paris, added Japanese art to theirholdings. The Österreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna, bought Japanese worksfrom the displays at the Exposition Universelle of 1873. In the late 19th century such dealers asKanezaburō Wakai, Tadamasa Hayashi (1851–1905) and Siegfried Bing also promoted Japaneseart.2. Painting and graphic arts.From the early 1860s Japonisme could be found in nearly all media across a variety of stylisticmovements. In painting and the graphic arts it influenced the asymmetrical compositions of Degasand Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, the book illustrations of Walter Crane and the wood-engravings ofWinslow Homer. The flatter modelling of Manet, Whistler, the Impressionists, Vincent van Gogh,Paul Gauguin and the Nabis had roots in Japanese sources, as did the pure colours and flat outlinedforms preferred by many of these painters. Japanese art also inspired similar decorative qualities inthe work of the Eastern European artists Emil Orlik and Otto Eckmann. The calligraphic line oforiental ink painting influenced the Impressionist brushstroke, the drawings and prints of PierreBonnard and Edouard Vuillard, as well as graphic works by Manet, van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec in France and Aubrey Beardsley in England. For the Pre-Raphaelites, the all-overpatterning, the naive style of outlined forms and the subject of women in Japanese prints was asinteresting as late medieval and early Italian painting. In Italy the Macchiaioli group also studiedand was inspired by the dramatic compositions and strong colours of Japanese prints. SuchAmerican artists as La Farge, Homer, Elihu Vedder, William Merritt Chase, John H. Twachtmanand Maurice Prendergast were influenced by Japanese composition and design and oftenincorporated oriental motifs into their works. Later Helen Hyde (b 1868), Will Bradley, Louis JohnRhead and Arthur W. Dow (1857–1922) adopted Japanese styles and effects in their graphic art.The introduction of Japanese colour woodcuts to the West from the mid-19th century dramaticallyaffected the history of printmaking. The woodcut revival of Auguste Lepère, Henri Rivière, FélixVallotton, Ernst Hermann Walther (b 1858) and Eckmann was inspired by Japanese sources.
Similarly, Japanese achievements in colour printing promoted the explosion in colour lithographyand colour etching of the late 19th century.3. Decorative arts.Japonisme in the decorative arts at first consisted primarily of imitations of Japanese models, withstylistic features paralleling Japonisme in painting; features such as asymmetrical compositions,pure bright colours combined in complementary colour schemes, and bold flat patterns and motifs.Many of these were copied directly from Japanese craftsmen’s manuals and dyers’ stencils.Japanese inspiration is evident in the products of the French manufacturers Christofle & Co. andHaviland & Co. of Limoges, in the designs of Joseph Bouvier (1840–1901), Bracquemond, JeanCharles Cazin and Camille Moreau (1840–97), and in the cloisonné enamels of Alexis Falize(1811–98) and his son Lucien Falize.In the late 19th century the popularity of Japanese design continued; it is particularly evident inproducts of the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau, for example in the glasswork ofFrançois-Eugène Rousseau, the ceramic decorations of Joseph-Théodore Deck and Emile Gallé, andthe jewellery of René Lalique. In American and British decorative arts Japonisme appears in worksproduced by the Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati, OH, which employed Japanese craftsmen, in thebold, patterned textile designs of A. H. Mackmurdo and Candace Wheeler, in the designs of thestained glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany and John La Farge, in the furniture of Christian Herter andin the naturalistic motives applied to silver manufactured by Tiffany & Co and Gorham.4. Conclusion.Western artists sought inspiration in Japanese art for a variety of reasons. In the applied artsJaponisme arose from a widespread study of historic decoration, stemming from a desire to improvethe quality of design in manufactured goods. The study of Japanese models also promoted a broaderinterest in principles of decorative design; during the late 19th century publications on decorationand the applied arts grew in number, and Japanese examples were frequently included.In Britain, the allure of Japanese art coincided with a fascination for the decorative styles, purecolours and spiritual quality of medieval art and early Italian painting. In France, the critic Astruc,among others, advocated the model of Japanese originality as an antidote to the belabouredacademic tradition. In the mid-19th century European artists had begun to draw inspiration fromsuch non-traditional sources as caricatures, popular prints and, in France, brightly coloured Epinalwoodcuts. Japanese ukiyo-e prints, which were often compared to these media, shared with them agraphic expressiveness, popular subject-matter, naive, archaizing style and original compositions.It was the Japanese approach to form—expressive line, abstract graphic style, decorative coloursand dramatic asymmetrical compositions—that most influenced Western artists. In 1905 the Englishcritic C. J. Holmes wrote: ‘Oriental art is almost wholly symbolic … the artist conveys to theeducated spectator a sense of things beyond the mere matter of his picture—something which themost elaborate and complete representation would fail to convey’ (Holmes, 1905, p. 5). As Holmessuggested, the study of Japanese art contributed to the birth of formalist aesthetics in the 20thcentury.BibliographyW. M. Rossetti: ‘Japanese Woodcuts’, The Reader (31 Oct 1863), pp. 501–3 (7 Nov 1863), pp.537–40
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