Anyone who has visited Giverny ---
and many who haven't --- know that Monet was a collector and lover of
Japanese prints. His attachment to the Japanese esthetic is reflected in
many of his paintings and physical surroundings. Even today some of these
prints are displayed in his home there including a copy of the right-hand
panel seen on this page. (1)
Similarly Van Gogh and this brother
Theo also had a passion for ukiyo-e. Although we can't be sure that Vincent
Van Gogh was the particular owner of a badly toned copy of the middle panel
we don't know that he wasn't. According to Ronald de Leeuw, the director of
the Van Gogh Museum "The collection of 474 Japanese prints in the...museum
is for the most part owned by the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation and hails from
the joint estate of Vincent and Theo Van Gogh. Theo's son, Ir Dr Vincent
Willem van Gogh (1890-1978), later expanded the collection somewhat. It is
no longer possible to find out exactly which prints were added by him to the
However, assuming that Van Gogh
himself did own a copy of the central panel of this triptych then he
and Monet, two of the greatest figures in the Western pantheon of art, saw
the same incredible beauty of these figures that this writer sees. Degas
also owned Japanese prints, but I have no idea which ones. Perhaps he owned
one of the left-hand panel. Wouldn't that be interesting.
Now is your chance to own the whole
shebang --- something which eluded Van Gogh and Monet.
1. La Collection d'Estampes
Japonaises de Claude Monet à Giverny, by Geneviève Aitken and Marianne
Delafond, La Bibliotheque des Arts, Paris, n.d., cat. #106, pp. 104-5.
2. Catalogue of the Van Gogh
Museum's Collection of Japanese Prints, by Charlotte van Rappard-Boon,
Willem van Gulik and Keiko van Bremen-Ito, Waanders Publishers, Zwolle,
1991, p. 8 & cat. #345, p. 245.