de Gournay’s Japanese and Korean Collection is inspired by art from the Edo period that was one of the great ages of Japanese painting. The flowering of art in the Edo included sustained innovation in painting materials, methods and the treatment of subjects and gave rise to much of the most recognisable imagery which today we associate with Japanese style.
The designs depicted in this collection remain faithful to the techniques and painting styles developed during this period such as painting onto gold leaf as a background and leaving expansive plain areas that depict sky, land, cloud, and mist without further embellishment. We also see the use of design painted in flat opaque colour enclosed by simple outlines as seen in de Gournay’s Windswept Blossom and we use the techniques of dripping pigment onto wet areas of design originally employed by the Rimpa School lead by Koetsu.
There is a contemporary feel to the manner in which colour was used by Edo artists that is reflected in de Gournay’s Japanese and Korean designs. We see bold, colourful and vibrant paintings as well as extremely soft and delicate styles often with the two opposites appearing alongside in the same pattern creating an effect that feels unusual and immediately relevant.
The subject throughout the designs shown in this Collection, as was the focus of much of the art of the Edo period, is nature including sparse open landscapes that retain the reserved aesthetic and simplicity of the original paintings and natural history where we see more detailed and stylised impressions of the natural world.