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Vincent Van Gogh painted the still life Japanese Vase With Roses And Anemones in 1890, during the last year of his life. This is one of the many paintings completed by the Post-Impressionist artist with strong Japanese influence. During the beginning of his career, he had still not let go of Classic influences, like the dark and gray color pallets and structured compositions. But after having more contact with other modern artists – like the Impressionists and Pointillists – he became more involved in the Japanese aesthetic.
Many painters of the time worked under this same Oriental influence, like Van Gogh himself and collected many woodcut prints that recently came to Europe. The traditional artists followed the Classic standards imposed by the Academies, driven by the bases of ancient Greece and Rome. The modern artists had a wish to break with these traditions and search for other themes and references. The Japanese art came as a fresh view, with an extremely different aesthetic approach.
The artist created many reproductions of his prints in paintings, like Bridge in the Rain and Flowering Plum tree. In other occasions, he used his prints as background, like in the works; Portrait of Pere Tanguy and Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Cafe du Tambourin – being that this last painting was done during an exposition he organized in Paris of his collection of prints. Along with the Japanese artwork, many other items came from the foreign country to Europe. In Japanese Vase With Roses And Anemones, the artist portrayed a green vase with Japanese writing and many different colored flowers – harmoniously mixing yellow, blue, red, orange, pink and green in one arrangement.
In letters written to his friends and family – especially his brother Theo – Van Gogh expresses his joy in looking at these prints and how this inspired him to create beautiful and colorful flower arrangements. He joined influences of Asian artists, like Hokusai, along with the scientific studies of the Pointillism and the fascination of the Impressionists with light to create his unique style of painting. The composition is unconventional, as he used a higher vision and captured a sense of perspective as he depicted the corner of the table on the left side of the canvas. A pink rose is fallen on the bottom right of the painting, creating a balance with the edge of the table.