Van Gogh and Japan

Exhibition Overview


Van Gogh, Courtesan
Van Gogh, Courtesan (after Eisen), oil on canvas, 100.7 cm x 60.7 cm.

The exhibition Van Gogh & Japan will shed light on the influence exerted by Japanese art on Vincent van Gogh.

Van Gogh created his own image of Japan by studying and reading about Japanese art, collecting and copying prints, and discussing their aesthetic qualities with other artists. His encounter with Japanese prints helped him to give his work a new direction.

The exhibition will demonstrate, step by step, how Van Gogh bent the Japanese example to his will. In this way he defined himself as a modern artist and positioned himself opposite such artists as Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin. The size, nature and importance of Van Gogh’s own collection of Japanese prints will be explored in detail, as will the role played by his prints in the renewal of his own idiom.

"I envy the Japanese the extreme clarity that everything in their work has." (letter to Theo van Gogh, september 1888).

(Image: Van Gogh, Courtesan (after Eisen), 1887, oil on canvas, 100.7 cm x 60.7 cm, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

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