European imitation of Japanese art during the 19th and 20th centuries / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Japonisme[lower-alpha 1] is a French term that refers to the popularity and influence of Japanese art and design among a number of Western European artists in the nineteenth century following the forced reopening of foreign trade with Japan in 1858.[1][2] Japonisme was first described by French art critic and collector Philippe Burty in 1872.[3]

Young Ladies Looking at Japanese Objects by the painter James Tissot in 1869 is a representation of the popular curiosity about all Japanese items that started with the opening of the country in the Meiji Restoration of the 1860s.

While the effects of the trend were likely most pronounced in the visual arts, they extended to architecture, landscaping and gardening, and clothing.[4] Even the performing arts were affected; Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado is perhaps the best example.

Window of La Pagode (Paris), built in 1896

From the 1860s, ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints, became a source of inspiration for many Western artists.[5] These prints were created for the commercial market in Japan.[5] Although a percentage of prints were brought to the West through Dutch trade merchants, it was not until the 1860s that ukiyo-e prints gained popularity in Europe.[5] Western artists were intrigued by the original use of color and composition. Ukiyo-e prints featured dramatic foreshortening and asymmetrical compositions.[6]

Japanese decorative arts, including ceramics, enamels, metalwork, and lacquerware, were as influential in the West as the graphic arts.[7] During the Meiji era (1868–1912), Japanese pottery was exported around the world.[8] From a long history of making weapons for samurai, Japanese metalworkers had achieved an expressive range of colours by combining and finishing metal alloys.[9] Japanese cloissoné enamel reached its "golden age" from 1890 to 1910,[10] producing items more advanced than ever before.[11] These items were widely visible in nineteenth-century Europe: a succession of world's fairs displayed Japanese decorative art to millions,[12][13] and it was picked up by galleries and fashionable stores.[7] Writings by critics, collectors, and artists expressed considerable excitement about this "new" art.[7] Collectors including Siegfried Bing[14] and Christopher Dresser[15] displayed and wrote about these works. Thus Japanese styles and themes reappeared in the work of Western artists and craftsmen.[7]