While China’s long-running contribution to Japanese art is usually acknowledged, it is often assumed that Western models only started to have a significant impact in the Meiji period. Part of the reason for this is the sharp reaction to Western artistic influence that occurred in the late 19th century, which effectively split the art world in Japan into the competing camps of yoga (Western-style art) and nihonga (Japanese-style art).

While the former appears as a whole-hearted embrace of Western artistic innovation, the other seems like a stubborn, purist clinging to timeless traditions, driving home the point that the two forms were artistic chalk and cheese. However, what is often forgotten in this simplistic dichotomy is that the Japanese art of the Edo Period (1603-1868) already contained a considerable amount of Western artistic DNA.

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