Musma (Japanese) by Vincent Van Gogh

Musma (Japanese) by Vincent Van Gogh

In June 1888, Van Gogh read the novel “Mrs. Chrysanthemum,” supposedly about Japan, written by the popular and prolific Pierre Loti. Descriptions of a young Japanese girl, the so-called muslim, strongly impressed the artist, and he gave this portrait of an Arlesian girl a similar Japanese name.

Novels and descriptions of Loti about his visits to Japan created Van Gogh a false picture of the Far East. Loti showed only a small idea of Japanese life and culture, which, through the eyes of Western tourists, were looked only at their eastern exoticism and unchartedness, in turn appearing then luxurious then primitive.

Van Gogh, a Dutch tourist in Provence, seems to have little understanding of life and people. He succumbed to superficial delight, which he perceived as something picturesque, unusual and different, and without hesitation gave the local arlesian girl an oriental character.

On July 29, 1888, Van Gogh wrote to Theo’s younger brother, an art dealer in the Paris gallery, that “if you know who the muslim is, I just wrote one.” She took me a whole week… I was forced to stock up on mental energy, in order to write well the muslim. ” The literary source of Van Gogh was a popular novel of the period in which the love story of a Frenchwoman with a Japanese girl reflected the French fascination with Japanese culture.

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