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Japanese Influences in European Art

Autor:   •  February 25, 2011  •  Essay  •  700 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,911 Views

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Japonism is the term used to describe the effect the ending of Japanese isolationism in the mid to late 1800's had upon the arts of the western world. The original word, Japonisme, was coined by French author Jules Claretie in 1872, according to Colta Ives' book on the subject, The Great Wave: The Influence of Japanese Woodcuts on French Prints, first published in 1974.

In the year 1600, the Japanese Shogun Tokogawa banned all western ships from Japanese ports, fearing that Western influence and trade would damage his power, loosening his grip as ruler of Japan. At the time, Japan was a relatively unchanged society; much like China is was geographically isolated from much of the rest of the world, and people there lived as they had for hundreds of years. The advent of advanced sailing technology and navigational devices in the western world eventually brought westerners into contact with Japan, bringing western influence and technology into Japan. Shogunate Tokogawa's national edict lead to 200 years of isolationism.

The only exception to this isolationism was for Dutch trading companies, whom having kept close relationships with the Japanese leaders, were allowed to trade at the port of Nagasaki. This state of affairs remained until 1854, when United States Navy Admiral Perry was able to finally negotiate a treaty with the Japanese, opening Japanese ports for trade with American ships. At this point, western goods began to be imported into Japan, and Japanese goods, mostly artistic in nature, began to be exported. This created a craze for Japanese items that swept throughout Europe and much of America (Morgan).

Quickly, items such as painted fans, kimonos, screens, and especially wooden block art began extremely in demand within the western world (Morgan). At the time, the Impressionist movement was just beginning, and works by Edgar Degas, Paul Gaughin, Gustave de Jonghe exhibit obvious Japanese influences.

One French cartoonist and artist, Georges Ferdinand Bigot, moved to Japan over his fascination with Japanese art. Though largely unknown in his native country of France, he became famous in Japan for his depictions of everyday life, often satirical in nature.

Of all the artists of


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