March-April 2008


or Japonisme, the original French term, which is also used in English, is a term for the influence of the art of Japan on those of the West. The word was first used by Jules Claretie in his book L'Art Francais en 1872 published in that year.Works arising from the direct transfer of principles of Japanese art on Western, especially by French artists, are called japonesque.

Artists who were influenced by Japanese art include Manet, Pierre Bonnard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Mary Cassatt, Degas, Renoir, James McNeill Whistle (Rose and silver: La princesse du pays de porcelaine, 1863-64), Monet, Vincent van Gogh (left Portrait of Pere Tanguy example of ukiyo-e influence in Western art) Camille Pissarro, Paul Gaugin, and Klimt. Some artists, such as Georges Ferdinand Bigot, even moved to Japan because of their fascination with Japanese art.

There were many characteristics of Japanese art that influenced these artists. In the Japonisme stage, they were more interested in the asymmetry and irregularity of Japanese art. Japanese art consisted of off centered arrangements with no perspective, light with no shadows and vibrant colors on plane surfaces. These elements were in direct contrast to Roman-Greco art and were embraced by 19th century artists, who believed they freed the Western artistic mentality from academic conventions.

Japonism also involved the adoption of Japanese elements or style across all the applied arts, from furniture, textiles, jewellery to graphic design.