Visual Arts27 Aug 2008 08:44 am
The most famous art shows held in Paris in the late 1800′s were undoubtedly the exhibitions of the Impressionists. However, in 1890, the École des Beaux-Arts held one of what were a series of shows in a style that was nearly as influential: Japonisme.
Japonisme was the French term used to cover a wide variety of Japanese visual art styles. Most often, these were woodcuts and prints from the Edo period. A master of the form was Kitagawa Utamoro, who made a series of prints in the late eighteenth-century. One of these prints, shown above, was called Midnight: The Hours of the Rat; Mother and Sleepy Child. The simple lines and clear composition of the piece would help Cassatt move away from her early Impressionist style toward the more precise look of her late lithograph prints. In homage to Utamaro, the most famous of these prints, made a year after the Japonisme show, also depicts a mother and child: The Bath.
For a recent take on “Japonisme,” read this new book by Lionel Lambourne.
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