Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Whistler and Van Gogh

Whistler and Van Gogh

Ratings: (0)|Views: 543|Likes:
Published by Scott Abel
An art history essay about Whistler and van Gogh
An art history essay about Whistler and van Gogh

More info:

Published by: Scott Abel on Dec 27, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOC, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Scott AbelWhistler and Van Gogh in JaponismePaintings by James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Vincent Van Gogh represent thetwo different ideas that reflected Japonisme in nineteenth century Europe and America.James Whistler demonstrates his association with Japan and the Aesthetic Movement inhis painting,
Caprice in Purple and Gold, No. 2: The Golden Screen
. Meanwhile,Vincent Van Gogh depicts Japan as a primitive utopian society and demonstrates this inhis painting,
 Le Père Tanguy.
 Not only do these paintings differ in subject matter, butalso in their symbolism.The subject of Whistler’s 1864 painting,
Caprice in Purple and Gold, No. 2: TheGolden Screen
, is a woman dressed in a kimono looking at Japanese prints made byHiroshige. The painting was of an Irish model named Jo Heffernan who was alsoWhistler’s mistress. Jo is wearing a lot of makeup to make her face look very pale andshe is wearing a purple, orange, and white kimono with a lot of flowers on it. The focal point of the painting is the orange part of her kimono. The kimono has a great deal of contrast between the purple and white on it. She is looking at a series of landscape printsknown as
 Famous Views in the Sixty-odd Provinces
made by Hiroshige. In front of themodel, there are flowers, porcelain, and a black and brown box. Jo is sitting on a browncarpet and behind her is a golden Japanese screen depicting scenes from the Japanesenovel,
Tale of Genji
. The picture has a great amount of detail in it. The palette has a lotof white, gold, and purple in it. The composition of the painting allows for the subjectand the background to appear farther away from each other.
James Whistler painted with a Japanese theme because he viewed Japan as a placewhere there was no need to compromise between truth and beauty, because truth was beauty. This idea, beauty for beauty’s sake, was known as aestheticism. Whistler hadnever been to Japan and he often confused Japan with China. Robin Spencer said,“Whistler made little distinction between Japan and China (Spencer 60).” Therefore, onecan conclude that Whistler imagined Japan in an unrealistic matter. Whistler usedJapanese objects that he thought were beautiful, such as the screen, the porcelain, theJapanese prints, and the kimono. Whistler generally believed Japanese items were beautiful, so he incorporated them in his paintings. Once he observed some prints in theJapanese style by Fantin, he responded, “…j’ai été cette fois si plus surpris que jamais par la brilliant et le purété de ces bouquets (Spencer 65).” Roughly translated this means,“I was very surprised this time by the brilliance and purity of the bouquet.” He enjoyedFantin’s still life paintings and thought they were beautiful. Furthermore, the descriptionof the work implies that the focus of the picture is not on the subject, but rather the livelyuse colors and the overall beauty of the picture.Vincent Van Gogh painted
 Le Père Tanguy
in 1887 and 1888. The background of the picture has a palette of light colors such as yellow, light brown and green and depictsJapanese prints on the wall behind Tanguy. Throughout the entire picture you may seethe individual brush strokes and this creates a less realistic effect. This painting doesn’thave a licked surface and the facture is not smooth at all. Although there is less detailthan in Whistler’s painting, there is still enough detail to depict Tanguy’s glasses in his pocket, the detail of his hand, and his knuckles. Furthermore, the direction of the brushstroke and the modeling of different shades of blue create a sense of volume in the
 jacket. Also, there is a great deal of plasticity in the representation of Monsieur Tanguy’s skin and pants. Van Gogh effectively paints Tanguy’s eyes, white beard, and pale face. The light source is to Tanguy’s left, so Tanguy’s right side is slightly darker that his left side as a result. Many of the people in the figures represented, includingTanguy are outlined in red to an exotic effect. Not only was this painting influenced by Asian art, but it also depicts JulienTanguy’s political philosophy. Emile Bernard stated, “Julien Tanguy, who read
 L’ecrit du Peuple
assiduously, believed in that absolute love which h brought all mankind together and destroyed the individual struggles of ambition, alwaysso bitter cruel (Kodera, 194).” Julien Tanguy volunteered to fight for his ideology in theaftermath of the humiliating French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871when the city of Paris severed its ties with the national government headed by AdolpheThiers and the National Assembly at Versailles. Parisians elected their own municipalcouncil called the Commune of 1871 and were protected by the Paris National Guard.However, the Versailles troops fought in the streets of Paris for five weeks against peoplelike Julien Tanguy and the Paris National Guard. The Commune was defeated and theVersailles troops reestablished order (
The Columbia Encyclopedia
). Julien Tanguy wasimprisoned, arrested, and sentenced to death, but he was saved by a friend of Degasnamed Henri Rouart. Van Gogh chose Tanguy as the subject of his painting, becauseTanguy fought for his utopian political beliefs. As in the title of the painting, Van Goghthought of Tanguy as a father, because they were very close and they shared the samesocial ideology.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->