Studies on Raphael Kirchner's postcards

Kirchner in the Land of the Rising Sun

by Eric Verbist (Brussels)

We recently came across this Japanese card, dating from the late Meiji-era (ca. 1900-1912). It reproduces a drawing from Kirchner’s well-known 'Coeur Dame' set (C.1-10). From a Japanese postcard dealer we learned that this card was added as a bonus to the Japanese (literary) magazine Shinshosetsu ("New novel"), which is very hard to find today.

Japanese edition Coeur Dame: Front
Japanese edition Coeur Dame: back

In the beginning of the 20th century, Japanese postcard artists and their publishers showed a great interest in Western art nouveau, which had a considerable stylistic influence on many of their creations.*

In the same period, the Western artistic world developed a similar fascination for Japanese art and culture. In the work of Raphaël Kirchner, this so-called japonism can clearly be observed in sets such as Geisha, Mikado, Santoy, Les Parfums (1 card), but also in some of the many advertisements the artist realized for the Parfums Lubin and, of course, in the exquisite illustrations for Jane de la Vaudère’s La Cité des Sourires.

* On the website of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which hosts the gigantic postcard collection of Leonard Lauder, one can discover thousands of marvelous examples of this cross-pollination between Western and Japanese culture.

Cover La Cité des Sourires
Parfums Lubin advertising – 1
Parfums Lubin advertising – 2
Parfums Lubin advertising – 3

Last updated on October, 10th, 2021