Japanese Prints: The Collection of Vincent Van Gogh The Collection of Vincent van Gogh

Louis van Tilborgh

“All my work is based to some extent on Japanese art” —Vincent van Gogh, to his brother Theo, July 15, 1888


One hundred and fifty years ago, Vincent van Gogh fell under the enticing spell of Japanese printmaking while working in Paris. He bought over six hundred Japanese prints and displayed them in his studio as inspiration.

Van Gogh admired the prints’ mastery of strong colors, everyday subjects, unusual spatial effects, and delicate details from nature. When Van Gogh purchased the prints, he was just beginning to develop his own style as a painter, trying to find a modern yet also more primitive kind of painting that engaged directly with the viewer. These Japanese prints helped him find his now legendary style, with nature as a mutual starting point.

Presented here, in association with the Van Gogh Museum, is a beautiful exploration of Van Gogh’s fascination with Japan and Japanese artwork. This volume reveals a selection of prints, all from the museum’s collection, that Van Gogh owned during his lifetime and presents them with the works they inspired. This opportunity to share Van Gogh’s vision gives a compelling glimpse into one of the most powerful creative influences behind his art.


This volume does much to contextualize and demystify Van Gogh's interest in and use of Japanese woodblock prints.



Louis van Tilborgh


Louis van Tilborgh is senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum and Professor of Art History at the University of Amsterdam.