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  • Author: Yumiko Nunokawa x
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The aim of this paper is to show how Japonisme was introduced to Europe in the late 19th century and how it influenced artists in major cities. Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e), especially those of Hokusai and Hiroshige, fascinated the Impressionists and other contemporaries such as Claude Monet (1840-1926), Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), and James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). Many of them adopted japonaiserie motifs in their paintings or sculptures, and it formed a major artistic trend called Japonisme. The Lithuanian composer and painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911) was also influenced by the trend of Japonisme, especially from the paintings of the Impressionists or through artists in Poland. In Poland and Russia, Japanese artworks were imported by artists who had studied abroad, or by wealthy bourgeoisie such as Feliks “Manggha” Jasieński (1861-1929), a Polish collector whose nickname was directly associated with Japonisme, and Sergey Kitaev (1864-1927), an ardent Russian collector of Japanese artworks. In this article, Japonisme in European art in general will be outlined, together with similar tendencies in Čiurlionis’ paintings, and then, examples of Japonisme-influenced paintings in Poland and Russia will be briefly shown. Finally, by focusing on Čiurlionis’ paintings, it will be shown how he adopted Japonisme in three stages. In the first stage japonaiserie motifs were only partially borrowed. In the second stage ukiyo-e’s motifs and pictorial schemes were applied to his paintings, and finally, in the third stage of borrowing, expressions of Japanese motifs in his most sublime style will be shown.


It is a well-known fact among Lithuanian scholars of studies on Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875–1911) that Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) once owned Čiurlionis’ painting Black Sun (or Ballad). However, it is known only by a reproduction printed in a Russian art magazine Аполлон [Apollon]1, with a title Conte fantastique and Сказка [Fairy Tale] and Stravinsky was specified as an owner of the painting and other details have not been well-researched. Even though some researchers visited St. Petersburg to find the painting several years ago, yet no trace was ever found. In this article, first we would like to look back at Čiurlionis’ visits to St. Petersburg and then, reveal new facts on concerts in which Čiurlionis’ music was performed and more over concerning Čiurlionis’ painting Black Sun how Stravinsky became interested in the painting by introducing letters exchanged between Stravinsky, Alexandre Benois and Andrey Rimsky-Korsakov.