La Japonaise (1875) and Portrait of Emile Zola (1868)
Édouard Manet (French pronunciation: [edwaʁ manɛ]; 23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883) was a French painter. One of the first 19th-century artists to approach modern-life subjects, he was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. His early masterworks, The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe) and Olympia, engendered great controversy and served as rallying points for the young painters who would create Impressionism. Today, these are considered watershed paintings that mark the genesis of modern art.
Influences of Japanese art and culture infuse much of modern society. It is easy to see reflections of Japanese culture in what might otherwise be considered a "western" or "occidental" world. Certainly, we have witnessed the overwhelming and growing emulation of Japanese customs in our own society. The work of French impressionist painter, Claude Monet seems to have what may be the first hints of Japanese influence in modern art. Here we will examine that influence in Monet's work, as it relates to impressionism, as well as influence upon modern culture as a whole.
"If you absolutely must find an affiliation for me, select the Japanese of old times...their aesthetic... evokes a presence by means of shadow and the whole by means of a fragment," (Monet, 1909).
By his own admission and self-designation, Monet was most greatly influenced by ancient Japanese art and custom. Monet was not alone in this fascination for the exotic, either. In the work of his contemporaries, Manet and Renoir, we can still see echoes of Asian influence. This is, of course to be expected, as the three were not only colleagues in art, but good friends living in Paris at the same time.