Japanomania in the Nordic Countries 1875–1918

Helene Schjerfbeck: Costume Picture I, 1908-1909. Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, coll. Hoving. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

The opening up of Japan to the rest of the world in the 1860s created great interest in Japanese culture, and collecting Japanese art and objects was in vogue. This left a strong mark in arts, design, crafts and fashion. The Eastern conception of art arrived in the Nordic countries and made an indelible impression on artists of all fields.

In Finland, artists such as Albert Edelfelt and Helene Schjerfbeck were in the throws of Japanomania. The revolutionary aesthetic of Japanese woodcuts also inspired Vincent van Gogh to depict the natural environment to the smallest detail. Claude Monet travelled from France to Oslo to paint winter mountain landscape, in a true Japanese spirit. Ateneum’s exhibition, opulent decorativeness of international art and design meets the depictions of pure Nordic nature.

This research and exhibition project, which Ateneum Art Museum has engaged in since 2011, will go on tour from Ateneum to the national galleries of Norway and Denmark. The chief curator of the exhibition is the internationally renowned art expert Professor Gabriel P. Weisberg.

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