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How Japanese Art Influenced Van Gogh’s Paintings

Van Gogh is arguably the most influential artist of all time. He was a Dutch-Post impressionist painter and created about 2,100 paintings in his lifetime, 800 of these were oil paintings. These included a variety of styles such as landscapes, portraits, self-portraits and are identified by the use of vivid colours and expressive brush work, all which formed the foundation of modern art. Desperate to get away from his mundane life, Van Gogh believed a trip to somewhere he’d never been before was the right idea. He chose Japan and formed a love for all Japanese art and aesthetics which heavily influenced his work.


VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890), PORTRAIT DU PÈRE TANGUY 1887, MUSÉE RODIN, PARIS, 92 X 73 CM

One of the first sights that struck out to him upon his arrival was simply the weather. The intense snowfall in the countryside, the white fields made him focus on the ‘winter landscapes’ by Japanese artists. In a letter to his sister sent in 1888, he was noted telling her, “That as a result I only have to open my eyes and paint right in front of me what makes an impression on me.” Additionally, he told his brother, “The weather’s still fine here, and if it was always like that it would be better than the painters’ paradise, it would be Japan altogether.” The new environment was growing on him, more than home ever did.


Van Gogh was specifically drawn to ukiyo-e, these were woodblock prints popular in the 17th and 19th centuries. He reflected these in his colours and techniques. This inspired the artist to follow and collect many more Japanese prints and the ones he was constantly drawn to weren't the priciest, but with the most eye-catching colours. Van Gogh was so inspired by Japanese prints that he placed the artworks in his studio and regularly observed them. Consequently, incorporating the bright colours into his own work.

Additionally, the artist would recreate Japanese prints following his own interpretation and by adding more colour. In 1888, he famously created a self-portrait where his facial features are similar to a Japanese monk.


If you found this to be an interesting read and want to learn more about art, we post informative and exciting blogs weekly at https://www.cistaarts.com/blog . Additionally, If you are interested in expressing your own creativity, investing in art, or simply admiring the work of others, CISTA ARTS is the place for you. Here is the link for a range of artwork from various artists https://www.cistaarts.com/artworks. We also offer a range of services, here is the link to more information about this https://www.cistaarts.com/what-we-offer. If you would like more personalized information, please email us directly at info@cistaarts.com.

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