fbpx
Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Painting of the Week: Vincent van Gogh, Bridge in the Rain (after Hiroshige)

Vincent van Gogh, Bridge in the Rain (after Hiroshige), oil on canvas, 1887. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Painting of the Week

Painting of the Week: Vincent van Gogh, Bridge in the Rain (after Hiroshige)

In the mid 19th century, Japanese ports were suddenly opened up to international trade, and Europeans went crazy for Japanese culture and art, especially woodblock prints. A new word in French, Japonisme, was even created to describe this mania for art from the East. Expressionist painter Vincent van Gogh was inspired by Japanese prints and even directly modeled his painting Bridge in the Rain after a work by legendary artist Utagawa Hiroshige.

Utagawa Hiroshige, Sudden Shower over Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Atake from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, color woodblock, 1857, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.

Ukiyo-e prints (literally translated to “pictures of the floating world”flourished in Japan during the Edo period. The subjects of these works included the stars of middle class entertainment – sumo wrestlers, kabuki actors and geishas as well as beautiful landscapes. Van Gogh never visited Japan, but in 1887 he left Paris and traveled south to Provence and he said the landscape of southern France reminded him of what he had seen in Japanese prints. It was here that van Gogh decided to copy the bright colors and intriguing flatness of Hiroshige’s Sudden Shower over Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Atake.

van Gogh Bridge in the Rain
Vincent van Gogh, Bridge in the Rain (after Hiroshige), October-November 1887, oil on canvas. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

In van Gogh’s Bridge in the Rain, the colors are brighter and the people on the bridge further away from the viewer. But in both works, the eerie blue of the sky makes the sudden rain shower seem dangerous, possibly a reminder of the unpredictable power of nature. By studying and mimicking the unusual pairings of color in Hiroshige’s woodblock prints, van Gogh found a new way to elicit strong emotions in the viewer, something especially important to an Expressionist artist like van Gogh.


If you like the Bridge in the Rain both by Hiroshige and van Gogh, read the following:

Kelly Hill is a Humanities instructor at the University of Louisville. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University, and she loves Impressionist, Surrealist, and Abstract Expressionist art. She’s been known to bore her friends and family with discussions about representations of gender in 19th century art. If she could only look at one painting for the rest of her life, it would be Degas’s The Star.

Comments

More in Painting of the Week

  • 19th Century

    Anna Bilińska’s Parisian Career and Tragic Life

    By

    If you think your life is taking wrong turns and it feels like you’re sailing against the wind, read on. The story of artist Anna Bilińska, who seemed destined for success, will show you that life can always get worse. Determined to Obtain the Best Education...

  • 19th Century

    Masterpiece of the Week: Eugène Boudin, Trouville, Jetties, High Tide

    By

    Eugène Boudin could be considered one of the fathers of Impressionism. It was he who met and influenced a young Claude Monet in 1858 with his sketchy impressionistic landscapes. Boudin’s changing color values, bold brushstrokes, and limited lines were stylistic elements clearly adopted by later and...

  • 19th Century

    Alphonse Mucha: Art Nouveau Visionary at North Carolina Museum of Art

    By

    Czech-born Alphonse Mucha was one of the most celebrated artists in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. As an influential force behind the Art Nouveau movement, he created sumptuous posters and advertising—promoting such everyday products as cigarette papers and tea biscuits—that transformed the streets...

  • 19th Century

    Gustav Klimt’s Lost and Found Viennese Beauty – Lady with Fan

    By

    Fräuleins (Ladies), step aside! This steaming-hot brunette is back in town! After 100 years of captivity, away from the Viennese public, you can now find her at the Upper Belvedere, showing off her superb skin. Meet one of Gustav Klimt’s last ever subjects: Lady With Fan....

  • 19th Century

    Sisterhood in Art: Portraying Sisters

    By

    It’s not surprising that many artists having sisters, painted their portraits, especially early in their careers. They were probably easily available for modeling and they often supported the artists’ effort and careers. Each of the five portraits below depicts sisters in their own unique way –...

To Top