Ever since the very first contact in the sixteenth century, Japan has always possessed an irresistible fascination for the West. The allure was only increased when, in 1638, Japan closed its borders and for over 200 years communications could only be made through a small colony of Dutch traders permitted to live on the tiny island of Deshima in Nagasaki Bay. After 1858, full trade was resumed, and a wave of 'Japanomania' swept across Europe and America. Lionel Lambourne tells this remarkable story in a fluent and engaging narrative that focuses on the human drama of the personalities involved. This book provides a compelling background to the history of trade with the East, before turning to Europe to describe the excitement as artists - most notably Whistler and the Impressionists - discovered the newly arrived Japanese prints and artefacts, and began to incorporate their influence into their work. The story spreads far beyond fine art, however, and follows the Japanese craze into the decorative arts, interior design, furnishings, fabrics and fashion as well as literature and the theatre. With his inimitable style and his rich store of well-chosen anecdotes, Lambourne brings the events to life, creating a vivid impression of the enthusiasm and inspiration that Japonisme generated. Later chapters are devoted to the influence of Japonisme in America, travel, landscape and gardens, and the curious subject of spooks and ghosts. The visual impact of Japan on the West was enormous, and this is wonderfully conveyed by the rich and varied selection of illustrations gathered here - some 250 in all - which include many original Japanese pieces juxtaposed with the works that they directly inspired, as well as a whole range of decorative arts, posters, advertisements, illustrations, fashion, cartoons, photography, gardens and architecture.
With its lively text full of human interest and closely supported by a wealth of beautiful illustrations, Japonisme provides the perfect introduction to this popular subject, and is also a valuable reference for teachers and students alike.