‘I envy the Japanese the extreme clarity that everything in their work has. It’s never dull, and never appears to be done too hastily. Their work is as simple as breathing, and they do a figure with a few confident strokes’ – Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo, September 1888
Vincent van Gogh fell under the spell of Japanese woodblock prints during his stay in Paris, where Japanese art was the height of fashion. His initial motivation in purchasing the more than 600 prints he acquired was commercial. He hoped to deal in them, but the exhibition he organized at the café-restaurant Le Tambourin was a failure. However, he now had the advantage of being able to study his collection at leisure, and slowly he became captivated by the prints’ colourful, attractive and unusual imagery.
This book explores the history of Van Gogh’s collection and analyses its composition and quality, and is accompanied by illustrations of many of the prints he himself owned and which are now held in the Van Gogh Museum. These prints, by artists including Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi and Kunisada, give us a compelling insight into one of the most powerful creative influences behind Van Gogh’s art.