Japanesque: The Japanese Print in the Era of Impressionism

by Karin Breuer

Japanese prints had a profound influence on many artists of the Impressionist era. Pierre Bonnard, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh, and James McNeill Whistler are among those who collected Japanese art and produced work that, in composition, color, and imagery, borrowed directly from the Japanese aesthetic.

Richly illustrated throughout, this elegant volume introduces 200 years of Japanese prints, from their evolution and innovative techniques to their radical impact on the European and American avant-garde of the 19th century. The book commences with a chronological survey of the Japanese print, including works from early ukiyo-e masters such as Harunobu and Utamaro, classic prints by the renowned Hokusai and Hiroshige, and vivid 19th-century examples by Kunisada and Kuniyoshi. The final chapters focus on Western artists who drew on the Japanese aesthetic in their own diverse ways, from Henri Rivière, whose Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower shows his debt to Hokusai’s famous views of Mount Fuji, to American artists such as Arthur Wesley Dow and Helen Hyde, who traveled to Japan to enhance their understanding of the Japanese color woodcut.


Karin Breuer is curator in charge of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. During her tenure at the Fine Arts Museums, Breuer has organized more than 20 exhibitions at the Legion of Honor and the de Young on subjects as diverse as Roy Lichtenstein’s prints, Arnold Genthe’s photographs, and 20th-century landscape drawings. Among her publications are After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire; An American Focus: The Anderson Graphic Arts Collection; and Thirty-Five Years at Crown Point Press: Making Prints, Doing Art.

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