Many artists have always been inspired by spring, creating some admirable hanami art: Vincent Van Gogh was one of them. In some of the letters he wrote to his brother Theo, he even talked about the huge influence that Japanese art had on his own!
Ever heard of hanami? It is the Japanese custom of enjoying and appreciating the blossoming of flowers. In Spring, loads of people visit Japan just to see with their own eyes the magic of sakura (cherry blossoms).
Van Gogh’s Japonaiserie
Japonaiserie is the name Vincent Van Gogh gave to the influence that Japanese art had on his post-Impressionism.
After the 1854 Convention of Kanagawa, when the import-export policy between Europe and Japan became less strict, several painters started to collect ukiyo-e prints, the Japanese decorated wood-blocks portraying mostly flowers, landscapes and young, beautiful women.
Van Gogh and ukiyo-e prints
The Dutch artist’s interest for this specific style started when he was living in Antwerp, while also studying Delacroix’s choice of colors.
He started studying the Japanese artist Hiroshige and even copied some of his prints, reviving the colors and subsequently mixing his style with the contemporary French Impressionism. He then developed his personal idea of Japonaiserie, which led him to paintings such as the hanami art Almond Blossoms series, whose colors take inspiration from all his studies on Japan.
Van Gogh and flowers
Flowers have always clearly been a fascinating element of study for Vincent Van Gogh: just think of the several versions he painted of the Sunflowers!
When the painter’s brother, Theo, wrote to him to announce the birth of his child, whom he called after the artist, Van Gogh decided to paint a blossoming almond tree to celebrate the newborn baby Vincent.
Right now, at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, there’s a temporary exhibition of all the paintings Van Gogh called Japonaiserie, including some impressive hanami art! Check it out!