The term “Japonsim” was first coined by French art critic and collector Philippe Burty in 1872 for the study of Japanese art and artistic talent. In the late 19th century, Japonism had a huge influence on European art, especially on Impressionism. Beginning in the 1860’s Japanese woodblock prints became a source of inspiration for many Western artists who were intrigued by the original use of color and composition in these works. During the Edo period (1639-1858) Japan was secluded with limited international trade with the Dutch only. The limited amount of Japanese goods that made it to the West were coveted and influential. When trade reopened Japanese art and artifacts began popping up in collectibles shops in Paris and London, thus starting the craze of collecting Japanese art. Hokusai’s sketchbook appeared in 1856 (introducing the Ukiyo-e style) which ignited widespread interest in Japanese prints.
Artists like James McNeill Whistler, Edouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Gustav Klimt, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, and Edgar Degas all drew inspiration from these intriguing and exotic prints. See the Japanese Print Collection.