What Does Japonisme Mean?

Japonisme

When we speak about European art, we also need to talk about Japanese art’s influence on European and Western art. Many artists have been influenced by Japanese art.

The term Japonisme is about the influence of Japanese art on European culture and arts. Most notably, the influence Japanese woodblock prints had on the Impression art movement. Many of the prominent artists from the Impressionism art movement were inspired by the Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock print artists.

Japanese art also influenced European theatre, gardens, and museums; it impacted many parts of European society.

Japonisme Meaning

The term Japonisme or Japonism is about Japanese art, culture, and aesthetics in European art, especially the Impressionism and Post-impressionism art movements. Without the Japanese influence in art and, in particular, the Japanese woodblock prints, European art maybe would not have been the same.

The Duitch trading ships brought the Japanese Ukiyo-e Woodblocks first on their cargo ships. By the 1860s, the Japanese woodblock prints became very popular.

I am not sure if those ship traders understood how much the art would impact European art for years to come when they brought the Japanese art and woodblock prints back.

The interest for Japanese goods in Europe was heightened when Japan opened up its ports for trade during 1853. You can imagine some European traders going around some of the Japanese markets and seeing the Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and wondering whether there could be an interesting in Europe

The woodblock prints in Japan were probably plentiful, easy to get as they were produced for the masses and would have been relatively cheap.

After 1853 when the trade opened up between Japan and Europe, Japanese goods like silks, fans, and porcelains poured into the European markets. Japan and all things Japanese became very popular with the European public and artists.

The influence of the Japanese woodblock prints influenced the European Impressionist painters and influenced Art Nouveau and Cubism.

Japanese art also influenced the theatre in Europe. In 1876 Gibert and Sullivan produced a play that was very popular called Mikado. It was so popular that seventeen companies throughout Europe performed it 9,000 times during the first two years of its premiere.

Japan also influenced gardens in Europe; Japanese gardens directly influenced several prominent gardens and parks during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In the United States, many collectors started to collect Japanese artifacts. Many US Museums today still have significantly Japanese collections in their museums.

About Japonisme and European Artists

There is no doubt that many European painters were influenced by Japanese art. As trade started to open up with Japan and the rest of the world, trading ships began to bring back many Japanese goods, including Ukiyo-e woodblock prints.

We can not talk about Japonisme and art without talking about Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Many European artists were looking for alternatives to the strict European artistic methodologies of that day – and they found the inspiration in these Japanese woodblock prints.

The French Artist Felix Bracquemond found a copy of a sketchbook by the Japanese woodblock artist Hokusai Manga at his printer Auguste Delâtre. His discovery helped start the interest in Japanese woodblock prints for many European artists – especially the French Impressionism artists.

With these Japanese woodblock prints, the European painters were inspired by how the Japanese executed their art. The Japanese woodblock prints had a quality that lacked perspective or was asymmetrical – they had flat areas—that used solid colors. Japanese artists would often place the subjects off-center.

These woodblock prints also had elongated forms, and they cropped their images at very unusual angles. When perspective and form were influential in Europe, the Japanese woodblock prints showed that being asymmetrical and creating an illusion of three-dimensional space was essential. It opened up the European artist’s eyes to another way of painting and producing artwork.

Here are some of the European artists that were influenced by Japanese art: Alfred Stevens, James Tissot, James McNeill Whistler, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Mary Cassatt, George Hendrik Breitner, Bertha Lum, William Bradley, Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Wesley Dow, Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Pierre Bonnard, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Helen Hyde, and George Ferdinand Bigot

As you can see from this list, many great European and even American artists are on his list; they were directly influenced by Japanese art.

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What Are Some Japanese Woodblock Print Characteristics?

There are many characteristics of a Japanese woodblock print, from the woodblock print title, artist name, and publisher’s seal; other features also include the color and subject matter. Japanese woodblock prints also have different artistic art movements.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Are Some Japanese Woodblock Print Characteristics?.

What Is A Japanese Woodblock Print?

A Japanese woodblock print is, as the name implies, a print that is made by using carved woodblock and applying ink on the woodblocks to print a design on paper.   The Japanese woodblock artists used the woodblocks to print artistic prints and even books.  Artists have used the woodblock print technique in Japan for hundreds of years.  

You can learn more by reading What Is A Japanese Woodblock Print? by clicking here.

Anita Louise Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Louise Hummel. I am an artist and a blogger. I paint mainly oil paints. I love to paint women, animals (mainly dogs and cats), and abstracts. I use a lot of gold and silver leaf in my paintings. I also love to blog about anything to do with art, business, Procreate, and all the wonderful artists that inspire me.

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What Does Japonisme Mean?