Exploring the Influence of Japanese Art on Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh, a Dutch artist, was deeply influenced by Japanese woodblock prints, as shown in the book “Japanese Prints: The Collection of Vincent van Gogh.” The authors, Chris Uhlenbeck, Louis van Tilborgh, and Shigeru Oikawa, compare van Gogh’s paintings with items from his personal collection of Japanese art, highlighting the influence of East Asian aesthetics on his work. In letters to his brother Theo, van Gogh expressed his admiration for Japanese art and how it influenced his own work. Despite its importance to van Gogh, the condition of his collection of Japanese prints has deteriorated over the past 150 years due to exposure to light. It is believed that these prints were originally more vibrant in color, similar to the bold hues found in van Gogh’s paintings.

Van Gogh’s collection of Japanese prints, primarily consisting of kachōga (flowers and birds) and images of female beauties, played a significant role in his artistic development. One of his most famous paintings, “Almond Blossom,” exhibits clear similarities to the tree images in his Japanese print collection. In addition, van Gogh’s interest in femininity is evident in the large number of prints featuring female beauties in his collection. He was also influenced by Japanese prints outside of his own collection, as seen in his bird’s-eye view drawings of the Arles landscape and his incorporation of Japanese motifs into his paintings of peasant women.

Ultimately, van Gogh’s collection of Japanese prints serves as a testament to his appreciation of East Asian art and its influence on his own artistic style. The vibrant colors and intricate details of these prints are evident in van Gogh’s own works, showcasing the impact of Japanese art on his artistic development.