japonisme: travel

31 July 2007


there could almost be an actual connection between the driving of the last spike completing the railways across continents and the birth of japonisme.

i tend to forget some- times that the railroad wasn't much earlier but in fact the four biggest railway companies in britian were all formed in 1923. in the us, it was earlier, 1869, but canada's two great railways were completed in 1885 and 1914.

the birth of japonisme?, you ask. well, you're right. i misspeak. it was the birth of japonisme and impressionism!

easy trans- portation afforded painters of the time to travel to the countryside, get out of the ever-growing cities and be where the light dappled the water and the leaves.

but further, the railroad companies, craving customers for their new businesses (which often included hotels and cruise lines as well), hired some of the best illustrators of the times to whet the yearnings of the public for faraway places.

as the posters led the eye to the beautiful light at the end of the road, beckoning to a place both more friendly and more mysterious, the artists followed exact layouts of hiroshige, hokusai, and the like, not to mention all of the other japanese stylistic elements partaken of.

and it worked. i don't know about you, but these posters awaken a yearning, still, in me.

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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