The Peacock Room,  James McNeill Whistler 

The art of Japan had a profound influence on British culture in the second half of the 19th century. Japanese art was very different from anything produced in England.

It provided an important source of inspiration for many artists and designers in the period from 1850 to 1900.

The general characteristics of the Anglo-Japanese style are surely the stylized motifs based on natural forms (flowers, birds and even insects);

circular designs based on decorative crests, called "mon".

These appear on many Japanese objects, sometimes in combination with geometric patterns.


Vase, Martin Brothers, 1899. Museum no. C.464-1919

Because of its simplicity and elegance, the Japanese design inspired the British designers to create objects with geometric shapes, in addition the furniture was sometimes stained to make the black wood like ebony, to imitate the Japanese lacquer.

One of the greatest admirers of this style was the architect, designer and critic E.W. Godwin (1833-1886). His appreciation for Japanese art is reflected in his architecture and his designs for textiles, wallpapers and theater. He was particularly famous for his "Anglo-Japanese" furniture. Godwin did not try to imitate Japanese art. Instead, he tried to combine the general principles of simplicity and elegance that he admired in the art of Japan with the needs of the home.