The Impact of Japanese Art on European Art: Lecture Review

My GCSE Fine Art coursework piece.

On March 23rd I enjoyed virtual attendance of Marie-Therese Barrett’s lecture From Japanese Prints to Art Deco: How Japonisme revolutionised Western Art, which was hosted by the Circle of Japanese Art London. In it, she discussed how Japonisme (which she defined as a passion for Japanese art and design) impacted the Paris art scene in the nineteenth century. Barrett’s overview contained numerous illustrated examples of Western art positioned alongside the Japanese art that may have provided the inspiration. These included famous examples such as James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge (c.1872-1875) and Vincent van Gogh’s Courtesan (after Eisen) (1887). Barrett situated the works in the context of the end of the Tokugawa and start of the Meiji era as well as the history of Japanese print culture, and linked this with the subsequent spread of influence in a light and entertaining way. She ably demonstrated the huge and continuing impact of Japonisme on Western art.

During the lecture I was reminded of my own amateur piece of design work inspired by Japanese art – my GCSE Fine Art project. For this project, I made a four-part folding screen, not based on any particular piece of Japanese art but on the overall impression I had, then aged 15, of Japanese art based on screens I had seen during museum visits in London. In my work, a large tree stretches across the screens with each panel representing a different season – starting with spring on the right and ending with winter on the left. The panels contain nature and wildlife found in Suffolk, England (where I lived at the time) during that particular season depicted.  Although now framed and mounted (see image above), my design was originally a free-standing screen which I made myself with wood bought from a local hardware store. My attempt at a Japanese art-inspired folding screen of British nature is a personal example of how, more than a century on, Japanese art continues to influence at every level.


The winter panel of my GCSE Fine Art coursework piece.

The Lecture:

Circle of Japanese Art London

East Meets West: Japan’s Artistic Encounters with the West

From Japanese Prints to Art Deco: How Japonisme revolutionised Western Art

Zoom lecture by Marie-Therese Barrett


Link to Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Battersea Bridge:

Link to Van Gogh’s Courtesan (after Eisen): 

One Reply to “The Impact of Japanese Art on European Art: Lecture Review”

  1. Hi Zoe, Thank you for your blog and thank you for sharing your artworks which I thought were very beautiful! This is a very interesting subject. Just by coincidence, I have just mentioned the ‘Van Gogh and Japan’ at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to another fellow student’s blog! It is worth taking a look.
    I have a question; so many things and ideas are shared around the world nowadays, especially online. Would you think ‘exoticism’ or ‘uniqueness to one particular culture’ will be all ‘diluted’ in the future?

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