Academic art, Édouard Manet, Hokusai, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Japonism, Le déjeuner sur l'herbe, Manet, Paris, Salon, William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Katsushika Hokusai, in an 1839 self-portrait (Photo credit: Hokusai, Wikipedia)
As of Édouard Manet’s “modernity,” there occurred a gradual decline of academic art. The nude women of Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) did not quite belong. Symbolism had therefore entered the visual arts. At first glance, this painting seemed a “realist” work, consistent with Gustave Courbet‘s art, but it wasn’t. The academicists, Alexandre Cabanel and William-Adolphe Bouguereau, who excluded it from the Salon of 1863, the regular exhibition of Paris’ École des Beaux-Arts, must have sensed what Victor Hugo had sensed when he first read Baudelaire’s Fleurs du mal, (The Flowers of Evil.) Hugo called Baudelaire’s collection of poems a ‘nouveau frisson’ (a new shudder, a new thrill)[i] in literature. (See Les Fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil], Wikipedia.)
James Abbott McNeill Whistler‘s “Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl ” was also rejected by academicists. Whistler was introducing impressionism and Japonism, which, Whistler’s case, would be called the Anglo-Japanese style. After leaving the United States, Whistler spent some time in France, but soon settled in England.
Both Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe and Whistler’s Symphony in White were “different,” so both were shown at the 1863 Salon des Refusés.[ii] Émile Zola stated that “[b] eauty [was] no longer an absolute, a preposterous universal standard,”[iii] and, in 1886, he published L’Œuvre (The Masterpiece), a novel inspired by the rejection of Manet’s “Masterpiece.” That same year, Jean Moréas published the Symbolist Manifesto.
Our Japanese artists are:
- Kitagawa Utamaro (c. 1753 – 31 October 1806),
- Katsushika Hokusai (c. 31 October 1760 – 10 May 1849) and
- Utagawa Hiroshige (1797 – 12 October 1858).
View of Mount Fuji from Satta Point in the Suruga Bay, published posthumously (1859)Sukiyagahsi in the Eastern Capital, from “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” Utagawa Hiroshige, (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (Please click on the images to enlarge them.)
Manet’s inclusion in a painting such as the deceitfully realist Déjeuner sur l’herbe of elements that did not seem to belong and did not belong, and Japonisme contributed to the ultimate acceptance of different styles, a multitude of “isms.” How else could Art Nouveau, Post-Impressionism (Van Gogh),[iv] Cubism (Picasso), Intimism, (Modernism [EN]), etc.have emerged? The unexpectedly enigmatic art of Manet and Japonism ushered in the degree of acceptance that characterizes modernism. In fact, Japonism was a tidal wave.
By the same token, there occurred an equally unexpected integration of various arts and crafts: musical, visual, etc. There was collaboration between stage decorators, composers, literary figures and various “artists.” Sergei Diaghilev‘s Ballets Russes employed major artists, including Pablo Picasso. Russian painter Léon Bakst was the Ballets Russes’ stage- and costume designer. Sergei Diaghilev also employed soon-to-be major composers: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Igor Stravinsky, etc. (For lists of artists and musicians who worked for Diaghilev, see Ballets Russes, Wikipedia.)
In other words, although there had to be exceptions, beginning with Manet and Japonisme, the world of art broadened. Modernism, starting with Impressionism, inaugurated greater diversity. A list may be useful.
- Æstheticism (British art for art’s sake): James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, etc.;
- artwork that is precise rather than “impressionistic” and “suggestive,” i.e. the art of members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: Edward Burne-Jones, William Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John William Waterhouse, etc.;
- decorative arts, i.e. the Arts and Crafts movement: William Morris, John Ruskin, etc.;
- Art Nouveau, curvy and sensual, whose most acclaimed representative is Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, etc.;
- illustrators: Anne Anderson, Aubrey Beardsley, Ivan Bilibin, Randolph Caldecott, Walter Crane, Edmund Dulac, Kate Greenaway, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Rackham, John Tenniel, etc.;
- posters, many of which reflect Japonisme or Orientalisme, in general, i.e. Toulouse-Lautrec, Théophile Steinlen, etc.;
- Japonisme (Toulouse-Lautrec, Mary Cassatt)
- interior decoration: La Maison Jansen, a Paris-based decorative office, founded in 1880 by Dutch-born Jean-Henri Jansen, Tiffany, design;
- Post-Impressionism and other “isms.”
In other words, as I wrote at the beginning of this post, rule-governed academic art simply faded out. But there’s more…
“Views,” or the Japanese Hours
As well, some Japanese prints depicted “hours” of the day. In traditional Japan, hours had been associated with an animal. There were twelve hours: the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Hare, the Dragon, the Serpent, the Horse, the Sheep, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog and the Boar. (See Horloge japonaise traditionnelle, Wikipedia.) These prints reminded me of Benedict’s Canonical Hours. “Hours,” or equivalent observances, existed before Western monasticism. They in fact still exist, not only in Western culture, but also in other cultures and religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Janeism. (See Monasticism, Wikipedia.)
As for “Views” or “Famous Places” (meisho), they sometimes resemble genre art, or art portraying persons going about their daily activities. Hokusai‘s Thirty-six Views of Mount Fugi and Hiroshige‘s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, both meisho (“famous places”) pieces, bring to mind the miniatures of Jean de France’s Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, illuminated by the Limbourg brothers and showing the labours of the months. Hiroshige’s series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo is divided into seasons, which takes us back to the calendar, no banal invention.
- Canonical Hours or the Divine Office
- Books of Hours, a Rich Legacy
- Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
- The Fitzwilliam Book of Hours: comments, palimpsests
[i] Wikipedia (Manet) contains a fuller commentary.
[ii] “Frissonner” means to shiver.
[iii] There were other Salons des Refusés (1874, 1875, and 1886) but it did not become an annual exhibition. The 1863 Salon des refusés was decreed by Napoléon III. (See Salon des Refusés, Wikipedia)
[iv] According to Wikipedia, the “term [Post-Impressionism] was coined by British artist and art critic Roger Fry, in 1910, to describe the development of French art since Manet.”Manet’s “Déjeuner sur l’herbe” (Luncheon on the Grass), 1863 (Photo credit: Déjeuner sur l’herbe, Wikipedia) (Please click on the image to enlarge it.) © Micheline Walker 8 July 2013 WordPress
- Katsushika Hokusai: Beauty (michelinewalker.com)
- Édouard Manet’s Modernity (michelinewalker.com)
- Édouard Manet: Enigmas (michelinewalker.com)
- Utamaro’s Women & Japonisme (michelinewalker.com)
- Utagawa Hiroshige: a “Human Touch” (michelinewalker.com)
- William Merritt Chase: Japonisme in America (michelinewalker.com)