How Japan Saw the West

Looking at Japanese art and seeing their representations of the West is particularly interesting to me. I haven’t done a wholesale study of it, but I think it would be fascinating.

So I was caught by Happy Catholic’s visual and discussion of an article in the Wall Street Journal.

So while artists in 1860s Paris were discovering the beauty of Japanese “floating world”—or ukiyo-e—woodblock prints, many Japanese artists were heading to Yokohama, scouring European publications and creating their own genre of exotica: the Yokohama-e.

These prints are the focus of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “Picturing the West.” Drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, its 97 works express little of Japan’s mistrust of foreigners—only excitement and curiosity. Typical of the genre, the prints are in turn amusing, beautiful, revealing and puzzling in their efforts to inform, entertain and sell. In the early rage for Yokohama-e, publishers churned out as many as 250,000 copies of about 500 designs.

Japanese pic of Russian couple 1861This is picture of a Russian couple from 1861.