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Phylis Floyd

French term used to describe a range of European borrowings from Japanese art. It was coined in 1872 by the French critic, collector and printmaker Philippe Burty ‘to designate a new field of study—artistic, historic and ethnographic’, encompassing decorative objects with Japanese designs (similar to 18th-century Chinoiserie), paintings of scenes set in Japan, and Western paintings, prints and decorative arts influenced by Japanese aesthetics. Scholars in the 20th century have distinguished japonaiserie, the depiction of Japanese subjects or objects in a Western style, from Japonisme, the more profound influence of Japanese aesthetics on Western art.

There has been wide debate over who was the first artist in the West to discover Japanese art and over the date of this discovery. According to Bénédite, Félix Bracquemond first came under the influence of Japanese art after seeing the first volume of Katsushika Hokusai’s Hokusai manga (‘Hokusai’s ten thousand sketches’, 1814) at the printshop of ...



Japanese, 17th – 18th century, male.

Born 1663, in Kyoto Prefecture; died 1743.

Potter, painter.

Kenzan was the brother of Korin Ogata, the great Edo painter (1658-1716), and became known first as a ceramicist. He and Ninsei Nonomura introduced a new form of richly decorated ceramic art, which was very successful in the Genroku period (...


Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 1883, in Kyoto; died 1959.

Painter, calligrapher, potter.

Rosanjin grew up in an adoptive family after being abandoned by his mother. When he was only ten, he discovered the art of calligraphy and was deeply impressed. On being turned down by the Kyoto Municipal Art School he taught himself virtually on his own, mastering the arts of calligraphy and engraving by the age of 20. In 1915, after completing various calligraphic works in Tokyo, he travelled abroad, going to China and Korea. He returned to Kanazawa to study ceramics under Suda Seika for two years. In 1917 he settled in Kita-Kamakura as a ceramic artist. He only travelled to the West once, in 1954, for the exhibition of his work in Europe and the USA. For eleven years, Rosanjin worked in close collaboration with the owners of Tokyo’s most renowned restaurant, making all the ceramic wares used in the establishment. His work defies categorisation; he touched on many disciplines in many styles....



Japanese, 16th – 17th century, male.

Active in Kyoto.

Born 1558; died 1637.

Painter, potter, draughtsman, calligrapher, decorative artist. Portraits, flowers.

Koetsu, a great calligrapher, painter, potter, decorator and patron of the arts, played a major role in the cultured world of Kyoto in the early 17th century. At this period, the city’s great merchants, grown wealthy from trade with China, were active in the cultural life of the city, giving themselves over to the tea ceremony, flower arranging, poetry and calligraphy. Koetsu was born into this potent environment to a celebrated family of sword polishers and appraisers who enjoyed the trust of the Ashikaga governors. He received a scrupulous education and followed in his father’s footsteps, while cultivating the art of calligraphy. With Konoe Nobutada and Shokado Shojo, he is reckoned as one of the Three Brushes of the early century. His art signals a return to the elegant calligraphy of the Heian period (794-...



Japanese, 17th century, male.

Active in Kyoto.

Born 1601; died 1682.


Kuchu was the disciple and grandson of Koetsu (1558-1637) and the son of Kosa. Like his grandfather, he was skilled in the art of the tea ceremony and ceramics. He produced a book on Koetsu entitled ...


Japanese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in France.

Born 4 February 1949, in Hiroshima.

Painter, draughtsman, ceramicist.

After graduating from art school in Kyoto, Mikizawa continued her training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In Japan, she worked in the studio of the Japanese master Tahara and also studied the techniques of the master Kusube Yaichi. She lives in Paris and in Ramatuelle. Without detaching herself from her roots, she is very much influenced by the light in Provence. Her painting is impressionistic, while her ceramics are firmly within the classical Japanese tradition. She won first prize at the All-Japan Art Competition and several other prizes at other Osaka exhibitions....



Japanese, 18th – 19th century, male.

Born 1767, in Kyoto; died 1833, in Kyoto.

Painter, potter.

Mokubei was a potter as well as a painter and a lover of illuminated art. An aesthetic intellectual evolving within an intellectual elite steeped in Chinese culture, he was the elder son of a patron of a restaurant or brothel in Kyoto. He was attracted to the arts at a very young age and left his father’s household aged 15....


Kōzō Sasaki and Hiroko Nishida

[Hyakurokusanjin; Kokukan; Kukurin; Rōbei; Ryūbei; Sahei; Seirai; Teiunrō; Yasohachi]

(b Kyoto, 1767; d Kyoto, 1833).

Japanese potter, painter and scholar. He was born into the Kiya family of restaurateurs and adopted the surname Aoki only after becoming a painter. Mokubei, one of his many artist’s names, was created by combining the Chinese characters for ‘tree’ and ‘rice’ (a character anagram of his given name Yasohachi). His most familiar studio name (), Rōbei (‘deaf [Moku]bei’), dates from the time when he had become deaf from the clangour of his ceramic kilns. Despite his plebeian origins, he gravitated at a young age towards the arts and Chinese philosophy and poetry. At 18 he became a pupil of Kō Fuyō, from whom he learnt seal-carving, epigraphy, literati painting (Nanga or Bunjinga; see Japan, §VI, 4, (vi), (d)), Confucianism and the arts and crafts of China. His first acquaintance with pottery also came through Fuyō, who owned a large collection of Chinese ceramics. After studying with Fuyō, he is said to have gone to Ise (now Mie Prefect.) to take up metalwork, and he later tried his hand at sculpture, but he was successful at neither. In ...


Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 5 September 1903, in Aomori (Aomori Prefecture); died 1975, in Tokyo.

Engraver, painter, illustrator, ceramicist, calligrapher, watercolourist.

Sosaku Hanga.

First Thursday Society.

Shiko Munakata assisted his father at the family forge as a child, then became a clerk and began to paint in his free time. Together with friends, he founded an artistic society to exhibit their paintings. In 1924 he left for Tokyo to study oil painting but did not find the method congenial. Attracted by the engravings of Kawakami, he then turned towards wood engraving, but concentrated mainly on Buddhist themes. From 1928, he worked under the guidance of Unichi Hiratsuka. He set up the Japanese academy of engraving ( ...



Japanese, 17th century, male.


Born in Nonomura (Kyoto Prefecture).

Painter, potter.

Ninsei is considered the first maker of kyoyaki, a type of Kyoto pottery that was extremely successful in the 18th and 19th centuries, and is also said to have been a painter in his day. The pictorial decorations of his ceramics bear witness to his artistic abilities and are sometimes of Kano style inspiration and sometimes of Tosa style inspiration....