Van Gogh & Japan: The influence of Japanese art on the work of Vincent van Gogh

Almond Blossom. Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, February 1890. Oil on canvas, 73.3 cm x 92.4 cm. Credit: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

The Van Gogh Museum's Van Gogh & Japan is a major international exhibition about the influence of Japanese art on the work of Vincent van Gogh, running until 24 June 2018. Published today is an accompanying book entitled Japanese Prints: The Collection of Vincent van Gogh which provides an extraordinary overview of Van Gogh’s renowned collection of Japanese prints, which contained approximately 660 works.

Based on new research, the authors revise current thinking on Van Gogh: he did not purchase the prints in Paris for pleasure, the common assumption up until now, but instead acquired the prints with a view to trading them. The book also reveals how the vivid Japanese woodcuts by artists including Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi and Kunisada became one of the most powerful, creative sources of inspiration behind Van Gogh’s work, and how they played a pivotal role in his artistic direction.

Alongside the book, the Van Gogh Museum is launching an online overview of the complete collection of prints. The missing works from Van Gogh’s collection of Japanese prints are a spectacular addition to this overview. The Museum has tracked down 50 works in private and museum collections, which have never before been on public display, and now unites them online with the museum collection. Even better, the prints are available for download for free as high-quality, high-resolution colour images.

At the symposium Van Gogh & Japan, held at the Van Gogh Museum on 6 and 7 June, various experts will discuss subjects including Japonisme, primitivism and Van Gogh’s collection of Japanese prints. The book, website and symposium together compliment the popular exhibition Van Gogh & Japan, which uses more than 100 artworks to explore how Japanese art influenced the life and work of Vincent van Gogh.

Utagawa Hiroshige II, Plum Garden at Kamata, 1857, Nationaal Museum voor Wereldculturen, Leiden

Utagawa Hiroshige II, Plum Garden at Kamata, 1857, Nationaal Museum voor Wereldculturen, Leiden

Katsushika Hokusai, Under the Wave of Kanagawa, 1829-1833, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Katsushika Hokusai, Under the Wave of Kanagawa, 1829-1833, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Courtesan (after Eisen). Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Paris, October-November 1887. Credit: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Courtesan (after Eisen). Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Paris, October-November 1887. Credit: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Katsushika Hokusai, Fuji Seen from the Katakura Tea Plantation in the Suruga Province, 1831-1835, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, purchased with the support of the F.G. Waller-Fonds

Katsushika Hokusai, Fuji Seen from the Katakura Tea Plantation in the Suruga Province, 1831-1835, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, purchased with the support of the F.G. Waller-Fonds

The Bedroom. Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Arles, October 1888. Credit: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

The Bedroom. Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Arles, October 1888. Credit: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)